Chancellor George Osborne is failing to meet his target of doubling the value of UK exports by the end of the decade, according to a report by the Reform thinktank and Barclays.
UK exports are growing in value at an average annual rate of 5%, some way shy of the 9% needed for Osborne's target to be realised. Moreover, the number of UK exporters is actually falling, putting the £1tn ($1.6tn, €1.2tn) target value even further out of reach.
Osborne wants to narrow the country's trade deficit by growing exports in a bid to rebalance the country's economy towards manufacturing and away from debt-driven consumption.
"There is always room for improvement. This report by Reform is an important statement that export policy is as fundamental to creating sustainable growth in the economy as access to finance or regulatory simplification," said Antony Jenkins, Barclays chief executive.
"Its message to government and larger companies is clear: supporting access to new markets must be a fundamental goal of interventions on behalf of UK business.
"Our experience is that once a business has begun to export they rarely look back. I hope this report will encourage all parties to think about how to help them make the first step."
Reform is calling for the government to build on its success in commercial diplomacy through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and UK Trade & Investment department (UKTI) to open up new markets and opportunities across the world.
It also says a "strong business environment" in which SMEs feel confident about their prospects is fundamental to any growth in exports. If businesses are not confident, they will not seek to invest and expand.
There should also be infrastructural changes, said Reform, such as increasing the amount of places the UK flies to directly in emerging markets.
UKTI has a list of 19 priority markets for the country's firms to target. They are Brazil, China, Colombia, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, UAE and Vietnam.
In January 2013, the value of UK exports to China hit a monthly average of £1bn for the first time.