Confirmation that the UK can negotiate and sign agreements with nations outside of the Bloc during the transitional period is a positive step forward. It will allow the Government to put the ground work in on as many deals as possible that will help to soften the ‘cliff-edge’ landing that exporters and importers potentially face when the UK formally leaves the EU.
Whatever the outcome of future discussions, much has been made by the Government of the need to move towards becoming a globally trading nation. But while exporting is frequently lauded as the answer to economic concerns, importing is often overlooked. Yet it is also a vital means of operational efficiency and growth for UK supply chains throughout the world.
Regardless of whether a business imports or exports, it is clear that - with the right support – the rewards associated with trading overseas can outweigh the challenges.
In our recent Trading Places report, UK importers and exporters told us that the top challenges they face in 2018 are currency fluctuations, administration, logistics management, and managing duty, VAT and freight payments.
There are several options available to help SMEs trading overseas to overcome these unique challenges. The key is for businesses to work with both public and private sector organisations to find the help they need. Here are three key options available from Bibby Financial Services to help UK businesses trading internationally:
1. Export Finance
For those selling goods in overseas markets, Export Finance can be essential to managing cashflow and dealing with complex International Commercial Terms.
Lengthy and inconsistent payment terms are a key issue for many businesses selling internationally and Export Finance helps SMEs to overcome these complexities. It helps by unlocking cashflow tied-up in unpaid invoices and by providing specialist credit control support, helping businesses to manage overseas customer payment.
Businesses can also take advantage of additional services available, including language, currency, timezone and legal support.
2. Trade Finance
Businesses often wish to buy goods from suppliers for resale but don’t have sufficient working capital or supplier credit terms to do so.
Trade Finance allows businesses to buy, receive and sell goods before payment is made. It helps by guaranteeing payment to suppliers before goods are in transit and making payment when items are dispatched. This enables businesses to develop relationships with suppliers due to payment guarantees and helps them to negotiate early payment discounts with suppliers.
Trade Finance can also provide ongoing funding until end-customer payment is received, supporting the end-to-end transaction process among UK importers.
3. Foreign Exchange
Perhaps one of the greatest impacts of Brexit to-date has been the depreciation of sterling and subsequent currency volatility. While a weaker pound may have made the UK one of the world’s best value travel destinations, according to Lonely Planet, ongoing fluctuations continue to pose challenges and risk for importers and exporters.
Our research found that more than two-thirds of SMEs that trade overseas have been financially disadvantaged due to currency volatility sparked by Brexit in the past two years. Furthermore, almost a quarter (23%) say they have never reviewed their foreign exchange requirements.
During times of political and economic uncertainty, one of the biggest risks for companies is their exposure to volatility in currency markets.
Foreign Exchange services can enable businesses to manage their exposure to currency volatility, allowing them to lock-in rates to avoid the erosion of sales margins.
Furthermore, businesses can often combine FX services with Trade Finance and Export Finance, providing an end-to-end solution for businesses trading overseas.