Small businesses back European Free Trade Agreement

Small businesses are the backbone of the UK economy. To make your voices heard, we ask your views on key topics each quarter, and share your answers with journalists and policy makers.

As the UK prepares to leave the European Union, we asked thousands of small business owners for your views on the negotiations. More than half (57%) of you told us you are supportive of joining the European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA). When asked why, the ease of exporting and importing came top (59%). Other key reasons included the benefits of having a larger customer base (46%) and lower tariffs (42%). Only 15% of you said you did not want to join EFTA.

EFTA or ‘the Norway option’ is a regional free trade area comprising of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. By joining EFTA, the UK could retain access to the European single market, but would not be part of the European Parliament or European Courts of Justice.

In addition, support for the Labour Party has grown among small business owners, with a 7% increase since April. If an election were held today, 20% of you intend to vote Labour and 37% plan to support the Conservative Party.

Regardless of the uncertainty caused by Brexit, economic confidence amongst small business owners has grown by 5% since July, with 40% feeling optimistic about the state of the economy. In fact, 67% say that they are expecting to see an increase in turnover during the next 12 months, with two thirds (66%) predicting by more than 10%.

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