UK businesses in both the services and manufacturing sectors are reporting improved export sales in the first quarter of this year, and are confident that their turnover and profitability will increase over the next 12 months.
That is according to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and DHL, whose research shows that trade increased by 5.5% for exporters in the first quarter of 2017, and is up 9.06% from this time last year.
However, currency fluctuations remain a concern for businesses, with 25% of services firms, and 52% of manufacturers, saying that exchange rates are more of a worry to their company than three months ago.
"Confidence among exporters is strong, which is a timely reminder that businesses are doing their best to ignore the cacophony of political noise around them and focus on the success of their own operations," BCC director general, Dr Adam Marshall, said.
"While confidence among UK exporters is high, rising costs, recruitment difficulties, and concerns around currency fluctuations could temper their growth if allowed to continue unchecked."
The BCC/DHL Trade Confidence Index shows that the balance of services firms reporting improved export sales rose to +10% from +8% in the last quarter, while for manufacturing companies it increased from +16% to +26%.
Looking at expectations of turnover over the next 12 months, the balance of manufacturers confident of an increase rose from +43% to +44%, while in services it increased from +35% to +39%.
In addition, confidence that profitability will improve rose to +28% for services companies - up from +21% in last quarter of 2016, and the positivity among manufacturers jumped by ten points, from +22% to +32%.
However, the BCC suggest that to maintain momentum, the government should develop an expanded trade mission, help businesses build links with key trade partners and underpin deals, and expand funding for front-line assistance to exporters.
It argues that businesses will be looking for the next government to secure frictionless future trade arrangements with the EU, crucial to both importers and exporters, as well as to broker new relationships with emerging markets.
"For UK exporters to succeed in the long-term, the next government must deliver not only a Brexit deal which allows for frictionless trade with Europe, but also pragmatic and practical support for businesses looking to develop lasting links with new customers and markets around the world," Marshall added.