40 per cent of exporting SMEs are expecting an increase in sales over the next year, according to research released by the Australian Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (Efic).
The majority of the 859 SMEs surveyed expect international operations to remain at the current level over the next 12 months, although 32 per cent said they expect profitably to improve over this period.
“Exporting SMEs are cautiously confident for the year ahead, a sentiment that appears to be driven by the falling Australian dollar as well as better business conditions and improved demand in export markets,” said Efic Executive Director, SME, Andrew Hunter.
The Efic report has revealed that 22 per cent of SMEs cite better business conditions and improved demand in export markets as factors behind their optimistic outlook, while 16 per cent point to plans by exporters to introduce new products or services.
Despite growing confidence, the majority of SMEs surveyed said they do not expect to hire more employees over the next year. 11 per cent expect their staff numbers to rise in the next 12 months, while 78 per cent expect their headcount to remain at its current level.
15 per cent of SME exporters have reported seeing export revenue become a larger proportion of their overall turnover, a 2 per cent rise from February 2014. 18 per cent of larger SME exporters, those with a turnover of $10m – $20m, reported an increase in the average percentage of revenue drawn from overseas exports.
Financial concerns continue to be a major cause of worry for smaller SME exporters, with 76 per cent of exporters with less than $1 million turnover expecting to have trouble accessing finance in the next year. This result marks a 14 per cent rise from June 2014. 29 per cent of overall exporters anticipate having difficulty accessing finance over the next 12 months.
“Access to finance continues to be a challenge for SMEs however, it’s positive to note there are a number of organisations, including Efic, available to assist SMEs with overcoming these challenges in order that they can achieve success overseas,” said Mr Hunter.