UK firms 'being held back' from international trade by new customs procedures

29 Mar 2023

Research published by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has found that UK small firms are 'being held back' from trading internationally by complex new customs procedures.

The business group revealed that soaring costs, supply chain issues and excessive customs paperwork are preventing small firms in the UK from trading internationally.

9% of small firms who used to trade internationally stopped doing so in the past five years, the research showed. 61% identified rising shipping costs as barriers to international trade, whilst 45% said a lack of guidance on customs procedures hinders them from trading internationally.

Tina McKenzie, Policy Chair at the FSB, commented: 'Small businesses are eager to grow their businesses overseas, but our findings show there are undeniable tariff and non-tariff barriers that prevent these firms from reaching their full potential and deter potential high-growth exporters.

'Our members consistently tell us the costs, time and the administrative burden of trade are the reasons why they give up overseas markets. Complex customs procedures and high costs also put foreign consumers out of reach and create an uneven playing field for small firms.'