By Kate Madley

Positivity reigns in Wales as over half of businesses expect export revenues and overseas sales to increase in the next twelve months.

Wales Business Insider and Enterprise Europe Network Wales say Wales ‘can take on the world’ after encouraging attitudes to international trade and exporting were revealed through a survey of Welsh businesses.

Wales was the only UK country to see a rise in exports during the first quarter in 2012, and this momentum looks set to continue as Welsh firms remain positive about their export opportunities.

“The survey shows Welsh companies in optimistic mood about international trade, with 63.5 per cent predicting a rise in exports over the next 12 months,” said Douglas Friedli, Editor of Wales Business Insider.

“While Western Europe is the number one market for exports now for Welsh companies surveyed, it’s telling that China is the most popular target market.”

Of the 169 companies that took part in the survey, one in four said China is the ‘new’ market they would most like to enter.

There was also strong interest in the other three BRIC countries, with more than a third naming one of them as their priority target market – India (13.6%), Russia (11.9%) and Brazil (11.9%).

About a fifth of the companies (20.3%) see Western Europe as continuing to be the priority, while 13.6% named North America and only 3.4% saw Eastern Europe (apart from Russia) as their prime target.

“It’s interesting that the fast-growing BRIC countries come through so strongly as the new markets Welsh companies would most like to enter,” said Steve Howell, chairman of WalesWorldWide.org.

“Nearly two-thirds of the respondents named one of them, which is radically different from the current Europe-biased pattern of trade.

“WWW will be reflecting the ambition of Welsh businesses to reach new markets in our content and network marketing, as we’re doing at present with our India season.”

Only half the companies responding to the survey were already exporting, with Europe and North America currently the main markets.

Of those already exporting, about half were relative veterans with ten years or more experience and well-established routes to market, including overseas offices.

However, of the respondents as a whole, 45% saw lack of contacts in new countries as a ‘high or very high’ barrier to exporting.

“This problem of lack of contacts can be tackled in several ways,” said Howell. “The global network of Chambers of Commerce and Enterprise Europe Network Wales are both avenues for finding potential partners overseas, and the Welsh Government provides funding towards the cost of in-market research.

“Our aim is to complement this by providing an online platform for networking that connects Welsh businesses with overseas contacts, starting by targeting alumni of Welsh universities and the vast Diaspora of people from Wales or with Welsh ancestry.

“In these tough times, Wales needs to harness all its resources and build stronger connections globally with people who can provide insight and access to contacts.”