European trade agreement

57% of SMEs support European Free Trade Agreement

More than half of small business owners (57%) are supportive of joining the European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA), a new survey has revealed.

Research by peer-to-peer platform Funding Circle has found that the key reasons cited by businesses for wanting to join the EFTA included the ease of exporting and importing (59%), a larger customer base (46%) and lower tariffs (42%).

EFTA – also known as the ‘Norway option’ – is a free trade area comprising Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

By joining EFTA, the UK could retain access to the single market.

Economic confidence among small business owners has grown by 5% since July, while 40% reported that they felt optimistic about the state of the economy.

A mere 15% said they did not want the UK to join the EFTA.

James Meekings, co-founder and UK managing director at Funding Circle, said: “Small business owners are clearly doing their homework on Brexit and researching all the possible options.

“It’s evident that joining the European Free Trade Agreement is a priority within the small business community and it’s important that we listen to ensure we achieve the best possible outcome for their growth and success.”

The survey has also indicated that support for the Labour party among small businesses has increased by 7% since April.

According to Funding Circle data, if a general election was held today, 20% of small business owners would vote Labour, while 37% would opt for the Conservatives.

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