Export sales growth has effectively remained stagnant for the past year as UK firms face continuing difficulties in trading with the European Union post-Brexit.

A survey of more than 2,700 exporters by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) found the number of firms reporting an increase in overseas sales unchanged at 29 per cent during the first quarter of this year, while those reporting a decrease rose by one percentage point to 25%.

William Bain, head of trade policy at the BCC, said this performance compares poorly to that of Germany, where exports inside and outside the European single market are ahead by double-digit margins.

“UK exporters are facing headwinds of higher red tape costs from trading with the EU, raised raw material pressures, and ongoing issues in global shipping markets,” he said. “If we are to realise the aspirations of the UK Government’s export strategy then 2022 has to be the year where these structural factors holding back our exporters are addressed.

“Sustained export growth should be powering our economic recovery from the pandemic. Chambers and their members are already working hard to increase exports but need more substantive measures from Government now.”

READ MORE: UK goods exports to EU fall further

Manufacturers were most likely to report increased exports during the first quarter of this year, with 32% of those questioned confirming a rise. Among business-to-business services firms such as lawyers and accountants, and business-to-consumer firms such as online retailers, 26% of respondents reported an increase.

More than half – 55% – of B2B businesses were confident of increasing profitability on their exports in the coming three months. This compared to figures of 45% for B2C service providers, and 44% of manufacturers.

Manufacturers were also most likely to expect a decrease in profitability (27%), followed by B2C firms (24%).