In a global climate of business optimism, uncertainty over Brexit continues to dampen corporate confidence among senior executives in the UK.

The International Business Report from accountancy Grant Thornton found that companies worldwide generally have a positive outlook, based on the firm’s quarterly survey of 2,500 senior executives from all industry sectors in 36 economies. The latest survey, conducted in the third quarter of 2017, showed that the proportion of business leaders who expect profits to increase this year has dropped; however, business optimism remains high at +49%. This is down 2 percentage points from Q2, following five consecutive quarterly increases.

Among the G7, consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as a number of other European countries, the UK showed markedly lower expectations for profitability, with the proportion of British businesses expecting increased profits dropping to 39% in the third quarter – a five-year low. “The UK has also suffered a dramatic drop in business optimism, plummeting to its lowest figure since Q1 2013, at just 9%”, according to the report. Concern over Brexit appears to be weighing on the country’s senior executives.

The UK’s outlook is not all gloom and doom, however. Robert Hannah, Chief Operating Officer of Grant Thornton said, “UK businesses have effectively been kept in a holding pattern since the vote to leave the European Union in June 2016, with very few details over Brexit negotiations causing significant uncertainty since. However, the past few weeks have given businesses a degree of clarity over the process and we should see this start to be reflected in optimism figures over the coming months.”

In addition, The Telegraph reports, a net balance of 24% of British companies said they plan to increase exports. This has risen in the past year, due in part to the fall in sterling. “It’s encouraging to see British businesses increasingly focusing on their export strategies and attempting to maximise opportunities in markets abroad”, Hannah added. “While many dynamic businesses are still finding growth opportunities in the domestic economy, those businesses that are actively establishing relationships in international markets stand to benefit the most in the mid-longer term.”

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