SME exporters have started the year optimistically, with 39 per cent expecting their export sales to increase over the next 12 months, according to new research released today by Efic.
Increased overseas demand (24 per cent) was the main reason provided for this increase, with this optimism around export sales growth also up by 8 per cent from this time last year.
The research, which surveyed 871 SME exporters, is the fifth in a regular quarterly series conducted by Efic to provide key insights into the outlook of Australian SME exporters.
Since the start of 2014, the proportion of SME exporters expecting that access to finance would become more difficult has grown by 157 per cent.
This looks set to continue in 2015, with the majority (58 per cent) in this survey expecting to find it more difficult to access finance for their export or international operations in the next 12 months.
The proportion of overall revenue attributed to export sales increased by 25 per cent during 2014, highlighting just how important exports have become to those SMEs surveyed.
Exports now make up 16 per cent of total revenue, with this forecast to grow by another 4 per cent in the next 12 months.
Smaller exporters (those with turnover between $100,000-$1m) are the most positive, with this group expecting exports, as a proportion of overall revenue, to grow by 6 per cent in the next 12 months.
28 per cent of the SME exporters surveyed also expected the profitability of their international operations to increase over the next 12 months, which is down slightly (5 per cent) since this time last year.
However, the majority of respondents (69 per cent) expected the profitability of their international operations to remain the same in the next 12 months.
The percentage of SME exporters that named China as their most important export market has grown by almost 6 per cent in the last 12 months.
In this survey, 26 per cent again pointed to China as their most important export market, followed by Oceania/New Zealand (20 per cent), India (11 per cent) and the USA (10 per cent).