Find your expert

Making trusted connections to secure international growth

29th Oct 2020 3 min read

For UK businesses seeking to build international sales, forging strong connections with customers and partners in overseas markets is amongst their most crucial challenges.


Santander’s fourth annual Trade Barometer report shows that for many businesses, making the right connections as they trade overseas can be highly problematic, with the coronavirus pandemic making life even more difficult.

More than one in four businesses already trading internationally (28%) say that finding trustworthy partners, connections and customers is amongst the most pressing operational challenges they face.

  • Of those, more than half (54%) pointed to the difficulty of finding suppliers and business partners in overseas markets.
  • More than a third (35%) worry about finding partners that can help them with the practical challenges of trading overseas, such as trade documentation and logistics.
  • More than a quarter (27%) say it is difficult to find customers.

The pandemic appears to be adding to these issues, with businesses unable to travel to overseas markets as they seek to grow, or to hold face-to-face meetings with the connections they do manage to make. Almost a third of businesses in the Trade Barometer, concerned about finding the right partners (31%), say that coronavirus related issues are causing them difficulties in this regard.

Moreover, for many businesses, these problems are particularly acute in markets such as China and India, which offer exciting growth prospects, but where businesses are often less likely to have extensive experience or enduring relationships.

  • In China, 37% of businesses in the Trade Barometer point to the issue of making trusted connections as an operational challenge.
  • In India, the figure is almost as high, at 36%.

By contrast, in markets closer to home, or those where businesses have had longer to establish themselves, this particular challenge is less pressing. For example:

  • In France, only 14% of businesses worry about finding trustworthy partners.
  • In the US, this issue is a concern for only 17%.