The challenge is such an issue that it has overtaken the condition of the global economy as the challenge cited most by UK firms, it added. Just 35% said the global economy was the biggest challenge facing the industry this year, compared with 43% in 2015.
A total of 34% also think that having more competitive exports due to the weakness of the pound is one of the sector’s biggest opportunities. But, almost two thirds (60%) of UK automotive manufacturers say a lack of knowledge is the biggest barrier holding them back from achieving their export ambitions.
Meanwhile, four in 10 (40%) cited cash flow or the availability of funding as a barrier to investing in international trade, down slightly from 44% a year ago.
Despite the concerns, 77% of manufacturers are investing in or planning to engage new international customers in areas including North America, South America, the Middle East, and Western Europe, the research found. But, those looking to target the Far East and Africa has fallen.
David Atkinson, head of manufacturing at Lloyds Banking Commercial Banking, said: “Changes seen over the past year are bringing new challenges but also different opportunities for the automotive sector, and it’s good to see firms recognising both.
“But what is worrying is the fact that a lack of knowledge is still holding businesses back.
“We are supporting the sector help by helping to equip them with the knowledge and expertise they need to grow their exports.
“Expanding their international reach in uncertain times will require firms to work closely with their trusted advisers but these findings show that the sector can play a huge part in helping Britain prosper both in the UK and globally.”
Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking have launched an international trade portal, which provides information about exporting and international markets to businesses. For more information about the Lloyds Bank International Trade Portal visit www.lloydsbanktrade.com.