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Post Trump election: what's next for small business exports to America?

The new president-elect promised to bring jobs home for Americans – but will this mean less US opportunities for UK businesses?

The American export market is already valued at £29.2bn this year, but Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election could have repercussions for thousands of SMEs in the UK.

During his campaign, Trump’s stance regarding trade and industry put emphasis on rebuilding and manufacturing capacity in the US and reshoring jobs, something that could impact on opportunities for both British and foreign businesses.

The US has always been a friendly export market for the UK, with its shared language and ways of doing business. It is also the largest export destination for UK-based manufacturers and is one of the few countries that the UK runs a trade surplus with imports at a staggering £26.1bn for 2016.

The UK has the highest number of SMEs exporting to the US at 43%, followed by Italy at 33% and the Netherlands at 31%.

Prior to the election, some SME exporters reported seeing an increased focus in both the US private and public sectors on ensuring jobs and productivity were captured locally.   

And this pressure is set to increase in the coming months, making things more difficult for UK manufacturers who sell directly to the US, and may encourage UK firms to develop closer partnerships with US firms and suppliers.

It is likely that firms will have to rethink their market strategies and assess their points of entry or figure out how to sustain their position.

After the Trump election, the reactions to the financial markets suggest more uncertainty to come, for example, slower US growth is likely to have a negative impact on global trade and will almost certainly limit opportunities in the US for UK exporters.

Currently, the US remains a vital export market for UK SMEs and a positive trade balance still exists between both countries, with many UK businesses seeing good returns. The value of the pound could also provide more opportunities for UK businesses to trade with America. As for the rest, it remains to be seen.

Melanie Luff

About the author

Mel wrote for all titles in the Dynamis stable including, and as well as other global industry publications.


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