The number of exporting businesses continues to increase, revealed the British Chamber of Commerce, in a survey released yesterday (5 August).

The survey, of more than 4,500 businesses shows that those who ‘think global’, either because they have previously worked abroad or they collaborate with international partners in business, are far more likely to export than those with little international experience.

Nearly a third (28%) of current exporters surveyed have lived abroad for more than a year, compared to 19% of respondents who do not export and are unlikely to do so in the future. The results revealed that 68% of non-exporters who expressed little ambition to do so have never lived abroad, compared to 57% of current exporters.

More than half (53%) of potential exporters see international links between their local communities and overseas communities as influential to their decision to trade abroad.

Three main factors that encourage businesses to trade internationally among current exporters were identified as collaboration with overseas partners (78%), those with previous work experience abroad (60%) and being part of an international business group (54%). Four out of ten exporters cite family ties as an influence on their decision to trade abroad.

“As the world becomes an increasingly open and interconnected market place, it is vital that companies ‘think global’ and develop a mindset that is naturally geared towards exporting and entering new markets,” said John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce.

“It is fascinating to see that nearly a third of business people who trade overseas have lived or worked abroad for more than a year. International experience like this builds export skills, so we should look to encourage more people into international placement opportunities, as this would provide global connections to the exporters of tomorrow.

“To persuade potential and reluctant exporters to become dynamic, international traders, we must foster the global connections that are so valuable to those looking to export. Chambers of Commerce are in a unique position to build partnerships with business communities through our overseas Chambers, and to raise awareness of the export support available both at home and abroad.”

Rebalancing the UK economy towards exports is vital for growth, so the British Chambers of Commerce is calling for more efforts from the government to place students and graduates in international business placement schemes, to encourage the employers of tomorrow to build their companies with a global perspective in mind.

An international business placement scheme could help unemployed graduates undertake research in new markets. In addition, a Business Erasmus-style scheme would enable students to spend time abroad building those all important global connections.