SMEs see opportunities ahead

Small business confidence in UK economic and international trading conditions is the highest for six months, research finds.

According to the latest data from the Western Union Business Solutions International Trade Monitor (ITM), nearly two thirds (65 per cent) of importers and exporters feel confident about current trade conditions in the three months to March 2012 – an increase of 9 per cent on the previous quarter, which was the lowest on record.

Confidence in the UK economy has also improved, with 47 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) surveyed feeling confident in the national economic climate compared to 40 per cent last quarter.

Moreover, 58 per cent feel that British economic conditions have stabilised or improved over the last six months, an improvement of 11 per cent.

The ITM also reveals that fears of a double-dip recession have subsided. In February 47 per cent of the respondents felt a double-dip recession was likely, down from a high of 70 per cent in December 2011.

This sentiment reaffirms the Office for Budget Responsibility’s expectation that the British economy will ‘avoid a technical recession’ this year, as mentioned in the Chancellor’s recent Budget speech.

Hopes for international trade are also high, with 58 per cent of British SMEs that trade abroad believing the international aspect of their business will grow in the next 6-12 months.

Neil Graham, UK managing director for Western Union Business Solutions says, ‘Business confidence in the UK economy has returned to levels last seen prior to the European sovereign debt crisis, which is indicative of British SME’s resilience in the face of a harsh economic winter.

‘Significantly, only 35 per cent of SMEs now feel that the conditions in the UK are dampening their trading prospects abroad. This is a 9 per cent drop from the previous quarter, and an important step towards an export-led recovery.’

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