Last reviewed 10 April 2014

Good news for the Government, as it tries to persuade more UK business to explore foreign markets, comes from the latest quarterly business index published by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

This shows that a net balance of 24% of FSB members expect exports to rise in the next three months.

FSB National Chairman John Allan said: "Small businesses will have a major part to play if the Government is to meet its challenging targets for 100,000 new exporters and to double the value of exports by 2020. Starting to export is a big step for small firms."

He emphasised that such firms will need tailored advice and support if they are to overcome the barriers to exporting that have been repeatedly identified by previous surveys.

For example, a recent FSB report found that the main barriers to exporting were fluctuating exchange rates (35%), difficulty finding customers (24%) and a lack of finance/working capital (23%).

There is, Mr Allan, went on, a major job to be done to raise awareness of the support UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) offers small firms thinking of starting the export journey.

The FSB's recent survey of nearly 9000 small businesses found that the sectors most likely to export are manufacturing (42%), wholesale trade (41%), research and development (36%), engineering (34%) and digital/telecoms businesses (25%).

The majority of the Federations' members still export to the Euro-zone although they are increasingly looking to other markets such as China for opportunities.