Exports from British small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) jumped during the first quarter to reach a two-and-a-half year high, according to new figures published today.
The survey, compiled by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) suggests that 36 per cent of SMEs surveyed saw an increase in export orders over the first three months of the year. As 26 per cent reported falls, there remains a 10 per cent net positive balance.
According to the CBI this is the best growth since January 2008, and reflects the continued weakness of sterling when compared with other major currencies. The rise was also better than anticipated by many analysts.
Order volumes also increased for around a third of firms surveyed. There was a total net increase in volumes of 18 per cent - representing the strongest rise in almost 15 years.
But despite the positive results, manufacturers are being battered by rapidly rising costs. More than 20 per cent of those surveyed said they had seen an increase in production costs, and many others said they were struggling with the cost of raw materials.
But exporters seemed to be generally optimistic about the future, with a net 14 per cent reporting that they are happier about their prospects now than they were three months ago.