The number of UK businesses actively exporting has risen, according to a survey from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

The survey of respondents shows that the number of member businesses exporting is up from 32% in 2012 to 39% in 2013.

The EU remains the most popular export market, with more than eight in 10 exporters trading into the market; this remains unchanged from 2012 at 87%.

“With austerity measures set to continue until 2018, it is clear that a sustainable recovery will have to rely heavily on diversifying and re-balancing our economy towards exports,” said John Longworth, director general of the BCC.

“British companies have massive untapped potential to expand, but they need the right backing to help them compete globally and break into new markets. With Europe losing its lustre and falling behind the economic pace of the outside world, it is high time for British businesses to reassess their priorities.”

The survey also found that many businesses are recognising the changing dynamics of the global economy, with more companies targeting the fast-growing economies of the United Arab Emirates and India to try and increase their export sales. Those exporters currently established in China saw the market to have the greatest growth opportunities, compared with businesses who have not exported before.

John Longworth continued: “Those already exporting to China, the United Arab Emirates and India regard those markets as offering the greatest potential for their business.

“This shows the confidence and willingness of UK businesses to expand their sales in the fastest-growing markets once they have taken the steps to export there. The positive experience of companies that have made the leap into these markets hints at the huge potential for the UK to grow its export base if the support is there to help them connect to these markets.”

Central and South America were the lowest rank export destination, with 28% of businesses trading with the region. The BCC also highlighted that only 40% of the businesses surveyed would consider exporting to Asia, with the slowdown in the region diverting attention to Africa and the Middle East, which is experiencing faster growth.

Of those considering exporting in the next five years, Brazil, Russia and Qatar ranked highly, with 32% of businesses revealing they would consider exporting to Brazil in the next five years, compared to only 20% of businesses who are currently exporting there.