Despite current economic uncertainty, almost four in 10 UK businesses currently trading internationally plan to increase their volume of trade over the next 12 months, new research has found.
According to data compiled by Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) on behalf of American Express, 39% of UK companies that are currently trading abroad plan to increase their volume of trade over the next 12 months, while 44% expect their revenue from trade to increase within the same period.
The news comes a week after Michel Barnier, the man at the head of the EU's Brexit negotiating team, warned that the bloc is now planning for a possible collapse in the talks.
Talks between Britain and the EU have moved at a slow pace, with the two sides unable to agree on some of the most fundamental issues such as the divorce bill, Irish border and citizens rights.
Barnier warned the Brexit secretary David Davis that if Britain wanted to discuss the all-important topic of trade, then the divorce bill would need to be settled in two weeks, ahead of the next meeting of the European Council.
However, the report found that the current economic and political turbulence was not deterring UK businesses in terms of their trade ambitions. Some 80% of UK businesses trading internationally remain confident in their global trade strategies, with bigger businesses - firms employing over 250 employees - 11% more likely to be confident than their smaller counterparts.
The report found that while 41% of UK business trading abroad already trade with US companies, the world's largest economy remains the top untapped trading partner for the UK, closely followed by Luxembourg, Denmark, Israel France, Finland and Austria.
Some 17% of the British businesses surveyed said they will look to trade with the US over the next 12 months, but China claimed top spot on a longer-term basis, with 14% of companies ranking the world's second largest economy as the preferred commercial partner beyond a 12-month period.
"Taking into account key trade drivers, such as economic performance, regional trade agreements, low levels of corruption and institutions, the analysis shows significant untapped trade potential for UK businesses both in the USA and closer to home," said Cristian Niculescu-Marcu, managing economist at CEBR.
However, companies were taking a cautious approach to their trade plans, with 49% of the respondents describing their approach to international trade as 'measured' and 21% saying they were "risk averse"
Exchange rate volatility and economic changes were cited as the biggest challenges to both current and future international trade activity by a number of firms, with 75% of the companies surveyed admitting international trade was becoming increasingly complex.
Meanwhile, 50% of the 1,509 companies surveyed across Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Mexico, Singapore and the UK said they expect to trade with new markets over the next 12 months.