The opportunity for SMBs in a complex global marketplace

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) face a range of challenges: inflationary strains, labour shortages, and global supply chain issues are all currently contributing to growing pressures.

The opportunity for SMBs in a complex global marketplace

In a world where consumers are demanding more, SMBs should view international sales as an opportunity to meet those expectations. There is an extraordinary opportunity for SMBs to be more resilient and grow their businesses by expanding across borders.

UPS asked SMBs about their experiences of the online marketplace. Although 65% of participants said they want to grow online sales in the next two years, they say they are also being held back by various factors. Easy access to information on trade and customs compliance, navigation of export tax duties and facilitation of shipping logistics were found as the main obstacles.

A central issue underlying these reasons lies in information – both accessing and understanding it. Unlike larger companies, small businesses lack the resources to have dedicated staff focus on unpacking and implementing changing policy. 

Policy makers also have opportunities to help SMBs. Tax credits or special funds can enable investment in services and platforms that can increase business capacity and enhance competitiveness: procedures at the border can be streamlined and digitised – this will reduce costs and encourage expansion into new markets by simplifying administrative processes. 

Initiatives supporting SMBs can offer clarity to those who want to take the opportunity to work across borders. UPS’s Women Exporters Programme, for example, gives women-owned SMBs access to experts and business insights to assist in negotiating international trade relations, and provides support to expand their customer base globally.

Perhaps the most compelling form of support governments can give SMBs is the negotiation and roll out of trade agreements. Trade agreements that take time, complexity and cost out of exporting for SMBs will encourage more international trade. At UPS, we support all international trade negotiations and make the case for customs and trade facilitation measures to be included. For instance, a US-UK trade agreement (with significant trade facilitations) could be transformative for SMBs on both sides of the Atlantic.

Support in the form of simplified customs and trade facilitation measures is a key element for SMBs to engage with international trade and take advantage of one of the surest opportunities for business growth.

Richard Currie
Richard Currie

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