The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has released figures showing that one in five small firms are increasingly worried about the costs of exports and imports over the next five years.

Small businesses are urging the next Government to prioritise international trade toBWTL / Playground AI prevent the potential collapse of supply chains.

According to FSB research, 22% of small firms are concerned about the rising costs associated with exports and imports. Additionally, 27% of businesses would like to see a reduction in both the cost and time required for importing and exporting goods. The FSB also found that 28% of small firms believe that a Small Business Act should include measures to facilitate easier international trade for the UK.

Tina McKenzie, FSB’s Policy Chair, emphasised the importance of international trade for small businesses:

“International trade fuels progress and fresh ideas, and without it, our supply chain crumbles. Small firms who reach global markets also tend to grow faster and be stronger during tough economic times. However, our research presents some troubling figures, so the next Government will therefore need to keep trade at the top of their agenda.”

Strengthening Trade Links

McKenzie stressed the need for the UK to strengthen trade links with major markets like the EU and USA to ensure the future of the UK as a global trading force. She suggested several ways to achieve this, including creating a simple online trade portal for small businesses to submit necessary information only once. Reducing paperwork and associated fees is also seen as essential to easing the burden on small businesses.

“Strengthening trade links with major markets like the EU and USA is key to the UK’s future as a global trading force. This would also incentivise small firms to start and continue trading.”

To further support small businesses, the FSB recommends investing in training for Border Force staff to ensure smooth movement of goods across borders. They also advocate for on-the-ground resources to enhance customs training.

“In the 2026 review of the UK/EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement, the Government should negotiate to remove the need for an intermediary for the EU VAT system. They should also aim for mutual recognition of product standards and professional qualifications in key sectors.”

The FSB also suggests the introduction of a next-generation export development grant or tax relief scheme, inspired by successful international models such as those in Australia.

Collaboration and Future Plans

The FSB has been invited to collaborate with the Labour Party on an exports taskforce aimed at developing a better approach to industrial trade and policy. The results of this collaboration are expected to be published shortly.

“We were pleased to be invited to work with the Labour Party on an exports taskforce, which will create a better approach to industrial trade and policy, and be published shortly.”

The FSB’s call for action highlights the need for the next Government to prioritise trade to ensure the continued success and stability of the UK’s small business sector.

“Simplifying international trade for small businesses will allow us to drive significant economic growth and increase resilience. We must not let this opportunity pass us by.”