By Steve Howell

Nearly four out of five (79%) of Welsh businesses that trade internationally reported increased or constant demand in the third quarter, according to a survey released today.

The strength of trading by Welsh exporters is one of a number of encouraging statistics in the latest Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) conducted by the South Wales Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by chartered accountants Broomfield and Alexander.

Across the board, sales figures appear to be improving with 74% of businesses experiencing constant or increased orders compared to 71% in the Q2 survey.

And this in turn is increasing confidence, with 83% of businesses saying they are expecting to see turnover over the next 12 months stay the same or increase.

“These figures reflect what we have been hearing from businesses over the last three months,” said Graham Morgan, director at the South Wales Chamber of Commerce. “While not all have seen improvements, many are doing better than at the beginning of the year.

“The figures for those businesses trading overseas are encouraging. We have been saying for some time now that businesses in Wales must tap into overseas markets if they want to prosper and grow.

“We have a unique, yet short-lived, opportunity at the moment to capitalise on the international profile of ‘Brand GB’, and I would urge businesses to strike while the iron is hot and make the most of this opportunity while they still can.”

The survey also shows that almost half (49%) of businesses have been recruiting during the last three months with more than three-quarters (79%) of those seeking to fill full-time positions. However, 45% of those recruiting have reported difficulty finding the right staff.

Graham Morgan said: “The difficulty for businesses in recruiting a local workforce with the right skills stems from skill requirements being misunderstood at school when youngsters are starting to look at their future careers, and selecting their GCSE and A-level options.

“A closer working relationship between business and industry, higher education and schools would go a significant way to solving this problem, and produce a home-grown workforce, equipped with the skills to ensure that jobs created locally can be taken by local people.”

The results of this survey, which monitors the performance of businesses in Newport, Swansea, Cardiff and mid Wales, act as a barometer for the strength of the Welsh economy.

Seamus Gates, director of Broomfield and Alexander, said: “The results of the latest economic survey by the SWCC are a good reflection of the experiences of our clients. While some struggle to maintain levels of business, others in certain niche trades and the IT services are beginning to see improvements.

“Overall, caution remains the watchword for the moment. The absence of significant economic turmoil over the last three months has at least given businesses the confidence needed to start to make long term plans for the months ahead.”