It's been a very productive month for British business. Positive figures for the UK's second quarter GDP are coupled with the fact that, for the first time since the third quarter of 2010, all the major sectors of the economy - services, industry and construction - showed growth.
DHL's own insight into international exports, The Trade Confidence Index, published in conjunction with the BCC, has found that confidence amongst SME exporters hasn't been at levels this high since the start of the recession.
Croatia's recent accession to the EU has given exporters cause to celebrate too, as the path to international trading with this exciting European market has never been smoother. As the EU's 28th member state, entry into the EU means an increase in the free circulation of goods, services and people between Croatia and the UK, as well as removing some of the existing barriers to trade.
This is great news for UK businesses, as Croatia and its 4.5m population presents a host of export and trading opportunities to exploit.
Croatia already imports 72% of its goods from the rest of Europe of which UK goods represent a value of approximately £1.5m. Currently the top UK exports to Croatia include medicinal and pharmaceutical products, industrial machinery, transport and telecoms equipment. There are two key benefits to trading with Croatia with its new EU member status; trade traffic will no longer require customs clearance, and current import taxes levied on trade between EU states and Croatia will cease, providing a better profit margin for UK businesses. In addition, Croatian customs law will be aligned with EU legislation, affording UK businesses increased simplification and improved customs control opportunities.
Exploring the opportunities and possibilities that international trade opens up is certainly exciting, but it still remains a more complex process than trading within the UK. The difficulties that external businesses have encountered in Croatia range from high levels of bureaucracy to lack of transparency in administration.
British companies looking to do business in Croatia should be prepared to encounter different business practices, cultures, customs and currencies, and be willing to seek help and advice from international trading experts such as the UKTI, which offers a range of services for UK exporters. The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) also offers export-training services.
At DHL we offer free support and advice to UK SMEs looking to export. There's plenty of information available on www.dhlguide.co.uk with information on Croatia and other trading destinations.