Customs paperwork deterring trade 

Research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) suggests small firms are being held back from international trade due to excessive and complex customs procedures. 

According to data published in the FSB’s Customs Clearance report, almost one in ten small firms who used to trade internationally have ceased doing so in the past five years with the volume of paperwork most commonly cited as a key reason for having stopped. Soaring costs and supply chain or logistical issues were the next two most frequently mentioned factors that are preventing UK small firms from trading internationally. 

In light of the findings, the FSB is urging the government to put the right structure in place and provide clear guidance on navigating customs procedures so that under-resourced but ambitious small firms can thrive and flourish in the global marketplace. 

FSB Policy Chair Tina McKenzie said, “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.”