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As part of a campaign looking at the workplace of the future, Dr Hari Mann from Ashridge Business School discusses the evolving landscape for businesses wanting to export abroad at the end of this decade.

A recent report from the Confederation of Business and Industry (CBI) found that only one in five small and medium-sized enterprises in the UK are exporting. Interestingly, those that did export were 11% more likely to survive compared to those that don’t. By 2020, I’d expect this figure to be even higher. UK businesses will need to seize the opportunities that exporting into foreign markets gives them, and the good news is that it will become increasingly easier for them to do so for a number of reasons.

Tech facilitating trade between countries

The arrival of new technology platforms will help support trade between small and medium-sized businesses, making it easier for companies to both market and undertake transactions in the future. We will see many more platforms acting as intermediaries to help support trade by providing easy access to logistics, packaging, and even currency transactions. These platforms will help automate the processes of exporting abroad, eliminating much of the hassle that small businesses are currently facing.

Entry of eBay, Amazon and Facebook into the trade game

By 2020, we will see companies like eBay, Amazon and even Facebook providing more specialised solutions to help exporters around the world. These companies already support businesses wishing to export to Europe and the US and the next five years will see them expand into India, China, and Africa, giving exporters the opportunity to trade in these areas with all the added ease and protection they offer.

Government support

It’s vital that any government is seen to be supporting the SME sector going forward. Given that exporting is an area in which the UK is currently under-performing, it is likely that the next government will bring about a raft of changes to help support and stimulate the export market. Over the next five years, we might see exporters given tax breaks or incentives to trade abroad, whilst the government may help to support and promote British products abroad on a greater scale than ever before.

Looking to the future, we should see more businesses being able to export both small and large quantities of goods and services abroad, enabling British business to become a truly global enterprise.


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