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Over half of global SMEs trade finance requests are rejected. In a new World Trade Organisation (WTO) publication, 'Trade Finance and SMEs: bridging the gaps in provision', Director-General of the WTO, Roberto Azevêdo, has issued a call for action to help close the gaps in the availability of trade finance that affect the trade prospects of SMEs, particularly in Africa and Asia. The report highlights that availability of trade finance is essential for a healthy trading system, and a lack of trade finance is a significant barrier to trade. However, SMEs in particular face challenges in accessing affordable financing, with over half of their trade finance requests rejected (compared to just 7% for multinational companies). “Without adequate trade finance, opportunities for growth and development are missed and companies are deprived of the fuel they need to trade and expand,” said DG Azevêdo. To read the WTO's news release with a link to the full report go to
UK SME manufacturers forced to wait almost twice as long as larger rivals for invoices to be paid. Research from the Asset Based Finance Association (ABFA) has shown that UK SME manufacturers waited an average of 67 days for invoices to be paid last year, whereas the largest manufacturing businesses - those with a turnover over £500 million - waited an average of just 38 days. ABFA suggests that the figures indicate the issue of late payment, and poor payment practices more generally, has become increasingly ingrained in business practice since the credit crunch and has now become endemic across many sectors. In addition to late payment, the ABFA explains that it is increasingly common for large businesses to seek to impose extended payment terms in contracts with their SME suppliers. To read ABFA's news release go to
The UK high street records its biggest drop in sales since the height of the recession. BDO has reported that its monthly High Street Sales Tracker recorded a 6.1% fall in overall year-on-year sales in April – the worst overall figures since February 2009. The fashion sector also hit a low not seen since February 2009 – when the world was in the grip of the global economic crisis – with a like-for-like sales drop of -9.2% on last year and by - 9.7% in February 2009. Sophie Michael, Head of Retail and Wholesale at BDO LLP, commented that with consumer confidence particularly weak driven by recent High Street corporate failures, global events and uncertainty around the ‘Brexit’ referendum, consumers kept a tighter than usual grip on their wallets in April. To read BDO's news release go to
UK economic growth slows in Q1 2016. Latest statistics from the Office for National Statistics report that UK GDP is estimated to have increased by 0.4% in Q1 2016 compared with growth of 0.6% in Q4 2015. This is in line with forecasts. In Q1 2016, GDP was estimated to have been 7.3% higher than the pre-economic downturn peak of Q1 2008 and 2.1% higher compared with the same quarter a year ago. Although Q1's figures represent a 13th consecutive quarter of positive growth for the UK economy, this is, nonetheless, the slowest single quarter growth since the end of 2012. To read the ONS' news release go to
Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.
Signs of UK business growth in biggest fall in four years. New research by R3 has found that although signs of business distress are still relatively low, UK business growth has now fallen back to 2013 levels - the first signs of businesses’ performance plateauing. Andrew Tate, president of R3, commented: “UK businesses have moved into a new phase of the economic cycle. The relatively rapid growth associated with recovery and the boost provided by low inflation and low fuel costs last year look as though they are now falling away. Headwinds, such as uncertainty over the future of the UK in the EU, stock market worries, or incoming compliance and reporting changes, are starting to pick up, too. The latest survey suggests some companies are still doing well and are showing several signs of growth, but more companies are showing no signs of growth at all.” To read R3's news release go to
Profit warnings down in the first quarter of 2016 but still remarkably high. According to EY’s latest Profit Warnings report, UK quoted companies have issued a remarkably high number of profit warnings: 76 profit warnings during the first three months of this year – down marginally from 77 in the same quarter of 2015. In the twelve months to the end of Q116, 17.2% of UK quoted companies issued profit warnings compared with 16.5% at the same point in 2015. The FTSE sectors leading profit warnings in Q1 were: Support Services (9), General Retailers (8) and Media (7). The FTSE sectors with the highest percentage of companies warning in the year-to-date are: Oil Equipment, Services & Distribution (50%), Mobile Telecommunications (50%) and Electronic & Electrical Equipment (50%). To read EY's news release go to
The CBI advises that there are signs that the UK economy is picking up. According to the latest CBI Growth Indicator, private sector growth picked up in the three months to April. The survey of 764 respondents across the manufacturing, distribution and service sectors showed the pace of growth improved after falling to its slowest rate since May 2013. In addition, expectations for continued output growth over the next three months remain healthy and above the long-run average. Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Director of Economics, said: “There are signs that the economy is picking up as we put the tough start to the year behind us. Manufacturing is stabilising, the services sector is performing well, and it’s good to see solid expectations for further growth. . . But global risks to UK growth remain in the path as our course steadies. The possibility of more volatility in financial markets, concerns about debt positions in China, and uncertainty ahead of the EU referendum could impact on activity.” To read the CBI's news release go to
Q1 2016 UK corporate insolvency numbers increase, but are still well below Q1 2015 levels. The Insolvency Service has reported that its latest statistics for Q1 2016 show that although company insolvencies were still lower than Q1 2015, they increased for the first time since Q1 2014. Phillip Sykes, president of R3, commented: "The rise is driven by compulsory liquidations which indicates that creditors, probably including HMRC are beginning to lose patience with customers who are not paying their debts . . . At the same time it is interesting to see that the estimated liquidation rate is at its lowest level since comparable records began in 1984, this is a sign of the continuing strength of the economy." To see the Insolvency Services' latest figures go to For R3's news release go to
Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.
UK economy boosted by fast-growing Indian companies.  A new report, 'India meets Britain 2016: Tracking the UK’s top Indian companies', published by Grant Thornton UK in association with the Confederation of Indian Industry, reveals that fast-growing Indian companies are making an important contribution to the vibrancy of the UK economy. The report, which monitors fast-growth Indian businesses operating in the UK, shows that the combined turnover of these businesses has increased by £4 billion in the last year to £26 billion in 2015. In addition, while there has not been a large increase in the total number of Indian companies in the UK over the last year, the number of Indian companies growing at more than 10% – the key benchmark for inclusion in the tracker – has nearly doubled, from 36 to 62 firms. To read Grant Thornton's news release go to
UK retail sales fall on a year ago but growth expected next month. According to the CBI’s latest monthly Distributive Trends Survey, UK retail sales fell at the fastest pace since January 2012 over the year to April 2016, disappointing expectations for a pick-up in growth. Within retail, department stores and the clothing sector were the main drivers behind the fall in sales. Performance also deteriorated in the durable household goods sector and in footwear and leather goods. Meanwhile, growth in the volume of internet sales slowed in the year to April, with the survey balance falling further below the long run average. Sales are expected to rebound next month, while orders are set to fall at a broadly similar pace. To read the CBI's news release go to
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