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SMEs see promising upturn in economy so far in 2013
Eurozone instability is an ongoing concern for the UK’s SME importers and exporters

A fifth of small businesses believe that the UK economy has improved in the last six months, up from 9 per cent the previous quarter, research finds.

Of these, the vast majority of businesses (83 per cent) believe that this improvement is sustainable, despite citing macro-economic concerns, according to a study by the Western Union Company.

Furthermore, 86 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) believe that the general business environment in the UK will either improve or at least stay the same in the near future, which is indicative of the optimism that has been felt by larger businesses in recent weeks.

While domestic conditions may be improving for British SMEs, the research finds that the global economy remains a top concern for 76 per cent of businesses that trade with overseas buyers and suppliers.

The survey of 660 businesses also reveals that British importers and exporters are concerned by cheaper competitors (63 per cent) and currency volatility (59 per cent).

In the first half of 2013, sterling has fluctuated against the dollar and euro by over 9 per cent and 7 per cent respectively.

Jonathan Rees, UK regional divisional director at Western Union Business Solutions says, 'Today’s research shows that SMEs, whilst welcoming improving economic conditions, are proving slower in embracing the large-scale optimism expressed by bigger businesses in recent weeks.

'It is clear that we are still a long way from a full recovery; small business owners understand that more time is needed after six spluttering years of economic turmoil.'

Despite 75 per cent of SMEs saying that the majority of their export market lies in Europe, the research finds that Eurozone instability is an ongoing concern for the UK’s SME importers and exporters, with only 13 per cent believing that conditions in the Eurozone will improve by the end of the year.

Moreover, one in three (31 per cent) feel that the Eurozone crisis will have an adverse impact on their business in the future.

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