Businesses are increasingly looking to export to markets outside Europe as Brexit uncertainty continues to grip, says the boss of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce. 

According to chamber chief executive, Rob Johnston, the business support organisation has seen an increase in enquiries from companies looking to export to markets including China, Indian and the United States.

Mr Johnston said the recent growth in enquiries was backed by the results from its Brexit-readiness survey which found that businesses were preparing for Brexit by setting their exports sights further.

The findings come as the Department for International Trade (DIT) makes a renewed push to help small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) boost their international trade activity.

The DIT is offering tailored support, advice and grant funding of up to £1,500 to businesses, which is being run through the Cumbria Business Growth Hub.

Mr Johnston said: “Many businesses are focused on Brexit preparations at present and rightly so given that we could be leaving at the EU at the end of next week.

“But we know from our recent Brexit-readiness survey that one way Cumbrian businesses are preparing is by looking at markets beyond the European Union.

“The Chamber offers an export documentation service and, since the EU referendum in 2016, we’ve noticed an increase in enquiries from businesses looking at markets outside Europe such as China, India and the US.”

Mr Johnston also stressed the importance of businesses exporting their services or products to global markets.

He highlighted the exporting success of Haverthwaite-based Playdale Playgrounds, which sells its playground equipment to 49 countries around the world, having broken its dependence on the UK market.

“We’re keen to do all we can to encourage first-time exporters and to persuade existing exporters to consider new markets,” he said.

“Exporting is good for your business. Statistics show that businesses that export have better productivity and survive longer.”

The DIT/ Cumbria Business Growth Hub scheme is designed to help companies exploit new overseas growth opportunities. It includes events to identify potential exporters, pre-export development support and development focused businesses, sector-specific events and market visits, specialist consultancy support and match funded grants of up to £1,500 for eligible companies to help implement bespoke Export Actions Plans.

To find out more contact Catherynn Dunstan at Cumbria Growth Hub on 0844 257 84 50 or email