The UK government has been reminded of the importance of protecting the interests of international traders as it prepares to formally commence the process of leaving the European Union.
British prime minister Theresa May announced earlier this week that the country will trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on March 29th, beginning a two-year process of negotiations and planning that will end with Britain renouncing its EU membership.
The UK's Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has since published a report highlighting the expectations that the country's small to medium-sized enterprises have concerning Brexit, with maintaining the ease of importing and exporting cited as a key issue.
Of those polled, 63 per cent said that maintaining some kind of access to the European single market is the most important matter, with 58 per cent of firms finding the EU single market easier to trade with than non-EU markets. Moreover, 45 per cent of current exporters and 53 per cent of importers say it is also cheaper to deal with the single market.
The report also showed that 27 per cent of exporting small firms would be genuinely deterred from trading with the EU should any tariffs be introduced post-Brexit, with non-tariff barriers such as administrative burdens in dealing with customs considered equally important.
Mike Cherry, national chairman of the FSB, said: "FSB calls on the government to secure the easiest and least costly access to the EU single market in the Brexit negotiations.
"This includes a new customs arrangement with the EU that allows for frictionless cross-border trade, and we call for greater support for small businesses to gain full benefits from future trade deals with non-EU markets."
The most recent data from the Confederation of British Industry showed that British export order books have risen to their highest level in over three years. If the government wishes to maintain this momentum, then the coming Brexit negotiations will prove crucially important.