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25 January 2017

Free access to European markets vital, says FSB

Free access to European markets vital, says FSB

The importance of securing free access to European markets has been revealed in new research by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

The study reveals that one in three (32%) smaller businesses in the UK are involved in overseas trade as an exporter and/or importer. Further, about nine in ten (92%) firms which export, and a similar proportion of firms which import (85%), currently trade with the EU single market.

However, as a result of Brexit, one-third (29%) of UK exporting small firms – regardless of to where they export – expect their export volumes to decline. Only one in five (20%) expect volumes to increase.

The new research is based on three survey of UK small businesses, with more than 4000 responses from firms in total.

Andy Willox, FSB’s Scottish policy convenor, said: “UK business exports have been on the rise since the referendum on Europe, powered by the low value of pound. Governments in Edinburgh and London have bold ambitions to increase export volumes and values. Therefore, whatever lies ahead, we cannot see new administrative or financial burdens placed on firms which trade internationally.”

The research, conducted in the autumn of 2016, shows that one in four (26%) Scottish smaller employers have a non-UK EU citizen as part of their staff team.

Andy Willox said:As a minimum, FSB wants the UK Government to guarantee that EU citizens currently in the Scottish workforce – whether as employees or running their own business – have the right to stay here.

“FSB in Scotland has argued that much could be done by our schools, colleges and universities to ensure that people have the right skills for the world of work. However, Scottish firms must be able to continue to source international talent and labour if that’s required.”

On the impact of Brexit in Scotland, Andy Willox added: “As the UK leaves the EU, the Scottish Government will need to quickly refocus the support it offers business and make sure its economic strategy reflects the new reality.”

ENDS

Colin Borland                     colin.borland@fsb.org.uk               07917 628 939
Stuart Mackinnon               stuart.mackinnon@fsb.org.uk         07917 628 995