The Government has been urged to do more to help firms sell goods overseas after a study found a lack of exporting culture among British firms.
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said a survey of 8,000 companies showed that 5,500 did not export anything, partly because they thought their products were unsuitable or because they had enough business in the UK.
But one in 10 said they lacked resources to help them export goods while a similar number believed they would need help finding overseas customers.
Among exporting companies, 15% said they still faced difficulties accessing finance and insurance, while many said they would welcome more Government support.
The survey was published ahead of a White Paper today on trade, which the BCC described as “highly anticipated”.
David Frost, director general of the BCC, said: “Our survey reveals some uncomfortable truths for British business and for the Government about our ability to export.
“Too many of our companies lack an exporting culture, even though they produce high-quality goods and services. We cannot rebalance Britain’s economy when so many companies say they’re simply not ready or able to take their products overseas.
“Despite its rhetoric, the Government is not yet doing enough to encourage and incentivise exporting. The UK doesn’t provide enough help to small and medium-sized exporters, whereas governments in Canada, Germany, France and the USA take more steps to make sure their companies succeed overseas.
“The Government’s trade White Paper must include some radical moves to get Britain exporting. Unless we see more help for small companies seeking trade finance, which the BCC has insisted on for three years now, the UK will continue to see hundreds of millions of pounds of lost business.
“At the same time, ministers must also take this opportunity to commit to greater trade promotion, which is as essential to Britain’s economy as the NHS.”