Growing businesses often hear that they should look to international trade to help further their development. However, the world is a big place, and it can be hard to know where to target for the best results. In light of that, here are some facts and figures to help you decide on an export strategy.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), nearly 50% of all UK exports in 2016 were sent to the United States, Germany, France, the Netherlands, the Republic of Ireland and China.
Overall, the largest single importer of UK goods is the US, which accounts for 15.7% of all British goods sold out of the country, and has long been a key trading partner across multiple sectors.
It has been suggested that the Netherlands receives a disproportionate share of UK exports due to a phenomenon known as the Rotterdam Effect. Due to Rotterdam's position as a major global trading hub, it is possible for goods to be sent to the port and then shipped on again to their final destination, yet still count as Dutch imports, even though the Netherlands is not their final destination.
Of course, countries across the European Union are major buyers of British goods (as a group, they account for 47% of UK exports), but it is unclear what impact the ongoing Brexit negotiations are likely to have on this.
One possible outcome is that the pound could fall in value against the Euro, making British goods more financially attractive to buyers across Europe. On the other hand, continuing uncertainty may make buyers more reluctant to engage with British companies.
The US seems likely to pick up any slack if exports to the European Union fall, so it may make sense for e-commerce companies to build tools that allow for currency conversion into US dollars as well as Euros on their websites, as this is a helpful way to demystify the potential costs for international buyers. It also could have the additional effect of encouraging buyers in other countries, as the US dollar can be used in tandem to the local currency in some developing countries due to its relative stability.