An international study reveals a confident tone among small businesses, with two-thirds (67%) reporting revenue growth and more than seven out of ten (71%) expanding their customer base in the past year. US and Spanish firms top the revenue growth tables. By contrast, in the UK there is a modest decline in the numbers reporting revenue growth.

Economic recovery is finally being translated into solid jobs growth in the small business sector, according to the survey by specialist global insurer Hiscox, which finds that one in six firms (16%) has added staff and more than a quarter (27%) plan to hire in the year ahead.

Millennials (those in their 20s and 30s) are leading the upswing. They are significantly more likely to be optimistic about the year ahead and to report an improvement in their personal finances.

The ninth annual Hiscox DNA of an Entrepreneur Report is based on responses from 4,000 small business owners and senior managers in six countries – 1,000 each from the UK and US and 500 each from France, Deutschland, the Netherlands and Spain. It provides a unique window into the world of the entrepreneur – and serves as a barometer for the financial health of the small business sector.

Bronek Masojada, CEO at Hiscox, said: “The report demonstrates that small businesses are now getting their share of growth in all the countries covered. It shows too there is a new generation of risk-takers coming through who are clearly prospering. And it reveals for the first time there is a dynamic core of entrepreneurs, engaged in more than one business, who are likely to be leading the way with exports and innovation. These are the wealth generators on whom our future growth depends, and policy-makers should take note.”

By SME Web is the website for SME business coverage produced by Publications UK.

Ahead of its exit from the European Union, the UK is currently negotiating to secure free trade agreements with several countries, but what does this kind of deal actually mean? When two countries agree to a free trade agreement, that does not normally mean the complete free movement of goods and services between their economies, with no taxes, quotas or barriers of any kind.

If you think about it that is pretty obvious, for instance in agriculture countries have subsidies for farmers, environmental rules, food standards and a dozen other policies. To ensure free trade of agricultural products all those policies would have to be coordinated, if not exactly the same.

This is why the issue of chlorinated chicken is suddenly in the headlines; we don’t allow it, the Americans do. It is a barrier to free trade and if we cannot agree on a compromise then any free trade deal between the US and UK will not fully cover trade in chickens. The same can be said about genetically-modified (GM) crops, where America thinks the EU approvals process is far too complicated.

And what about agricultural subsidies for farmers? You can be pretty sure farmers on both sides of any free trade deal will argue about whether the other side subsidises its farmers unfairly, well, until the cows come home. It is not just agriculture that is affected, removing tariffs on manufactured goods is normally considered the easy part of any trade deal, but what about chemical regulations, car safety and drug testing, to name just three examples? The reason that free trade deals involve years of talks, dozens of expert negotiators, and endless meetings on technical details is because such issues are very complicated and involve a host of issues. In the end they tend to come down to a trade off.

The proposed free trade deal between the EU and Japan has, beispielsweise, been described as acars for cheesedeal. It’s an over simplification, but the fact is a major part of the deal is that the EU will allow cars made in Japan to be sold in the EU more easily, and the Japanese will reduce tariffs on European cheeses (and other dairy products).

That doesn’t sound like much but it is important. Many Japanese carmakers have plants in Europe precisely because it used to be difficult for them to sell Japanese built cars there, as they had to pay a 10% tariff. Meanwhile, the Japanese government has had some of the highest agricultural subsides, tariffs and other barriers, because it has long sought to protect its inefficient farmers.

Both sides will win easier access to each others markets, but it is still not totally free trade. For instance some cheeses will be covered by quotas (a limit on how much can be exported to Japan), and car tariffs will take years to totally come down.

By Jonty Bloom Business correspondent, BBC News

Munaf Kapadia runs a successfulpop uprestaurant at his family’s home in Mumbai. His mother also works as head chef. While watching TV one Sunday afternoon back in 2014, Munaf Kapadia had an argument with his mother that would change his life. The then 25-year-old Google employee wanted to watch US cartoon the Simpsons, but as usual, his mother Nafisa preferred to see her favourite Indian soap opera and switched channels.

It got Mr Kapadia thinking.

His mum had lots of skills, but in his view she spent too much time watching bad TV.Determined to get her doing something more meaningful, he struck upon an idea. Nafisa had always been good at cookingBohrifood, an Indian cuisine that is much feted, but hardly served anywhere in their home city of Mumbai. And so he decided to email 50 friends, inviting them for lunch at the family home. “We settled on a group of eight friends of friends, and served them my mom’s food,” recalls Mr Kapadia, jetzt 28. “Then we started doing it every Saturday and Sunday, opening it up to the public and charging like a restaurant. That’s how The Bohri Kitchen was born.

Traditionally, Bohri cuisine has only been available within the Dawoodi Bohra community, a small Muslim sect that lives in parts of India and Pakistan. As Mr Kapadia says, “you literally had to beg Bohri friends or gatecrash Bohri weddingsto get a spoonful of it. It blends Gujarati, Parsi, Mughlai and Maharastrian influences, and is often enjoyed by groups of friends or families, who eat from the same large steel platter, oder “thaal”. For his firstpop-uplunch, Mr Kapadia charged guests 700 rupees (£8, $11) per head for a traditional seven-course banquet. By the time they had finished eating he knew the idea had potential. “I was really shocked, but they actually hugged my mom. They said, ‘aunty, you have magic in your hands, this food is outstanding!’.He adds: “I saw the glint in my mom’s eyes when she got that acknowledgement, which she is not used to, because we in the family take her cooking for granted. “That’s when I decided to just keep on doing this, I thought let’s try to keep getting new people exposed to my mother’s cooking skills.So Mr Kapadia quit his marketing job at Google, and in January 2015 launched theThe Bohri Kitchenas a brand. Thanks to word-of-mouth publicity and some good reviews, it quickly gained a reputation among adventurous young food-lovers. Mr Kapadia now charges 1,500 rupees per meal, typically offering lunches and occasional dinners at his parentshome.

He has also launched a separate takeaway and catering business, which operates through the week, and employs three members of staff from outside the family. The firm recently broke into profit and is now looking to open outlets across India.

By Kinjal Pandya-Wagh Business reporter, BBC News

 

A top official at the Bank of England has warned the government it has less than 12 weeks to agree a transition deal with the EU to prevent City firms starting to move jobs and business out of the UK.

Sam Woods, a deputy governor at the Bank, said City firms would activate their Brexit contingency plans if there was no deal on a transition period by Christmas which would mitigate the impact of a hard Brexit in March 2019. Woods also repeated his warning of the strain being put on the Bank’s ability to police the financial sector as a result of the changes firms needed to make.

In an annual speech to an audience of financiers at London’s Mansion House, Woods said City firms would become more complicated as a result of the restructuring they would need to undertake.

Lending to UK firms at risk after Brexit, Bank of England warns. His remarks come after a letter he sent in April to 400 City firms to demand they inform the Bank of England of their plans for Brexit, including if there is a hard exit without any trade deals or access to the single market.

A “transition or implementation period” was the most important requirement, Woods said, as he warned that the further away an agreement is from Christmas, the less effective it would be in helping to reassure City firms about the changes they need to cope with Brexit.

Data released by the Commerce Department showed that rising exports and falling imports shrank the United States’ trade deficit in goods and services to the lowest level in nearly a year.

The trade deficit — the gap between what the United States imports and what it exports — narrowed to $42.4 billion in August, down $1.2 billion from July. Exports for the month were $195.3 Milliarde, while imports came to $237.7 Milliarde. The nation’s trade deficits with China and the European Union both shrank in August.

Josh Feinman, the chief economist of Deutsche Asset Management, said those trends were largely the result of a strengthening global economy that buoyed American exports, as well as the weakening of the value of the dollar.

“Global growth is looking better,” Mr. Feinman said. “That does create a little bit of a tailwind for exports.” He cautioned that the economic impact of Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall in Texas on Aug. 25, could be distorting the data somewhat, as ports closed and people stayed home from work and shops.

Despite the narrowing in August, the overall trade deficit is still growing on an annual basis. It was up 8.8 percent in the first eight months from the same period in 2016, according to Commerce Department data.

The value of gas exports will surge by nearly 60% in the next two years, from $22.3bn to $35.4bn, as Australia becomes the world’s biggest exporter of LNG. Last week gas exporters agreed to guarantee supply for Australia’s eastern gas market to prevent a looming shortfall next year. Figures published in Resources and Energy Quarterly on Friday show the surge in gas production will predominantly come from Australia’s western and northern gas markets, when three large LNG projects under construction (Wheatstone, Icthys, and Prelude) come online.

Turnbull renews pressure on NSW premier to approve Narrabri gas project but there could be strong growth in exports from the eastern gas market, depending on the deal struck with Malcolm Turnbull last week. “That might be price growth or volume growth, or it might be both,” the head of the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association, Malcolm Roberts, told Guardian Australia. “It will depend to some extent on local demand, because local customers will be getting first dibs on uncontracted gas [next year]."

In a move hailed as a win by the government last week, Santos, Origin Energy and Shell agreed to quarantine additional supply for the eastern gas market. “They have given us a guarantee that they will offer to the domestic market the gas that was identified as the expected demand shortfall by [the Australian Energy Market Operator] in 2018,” Turnbull said after his meeting with gas bosses last week. “They stated that they will provide a similar guarantee over two years, that’s their intentionthey’ve stated that they will offer first, as a first priority, domestic customers any un-contracted gas in the future as a priority.”

Roberts said on Thursday there would still be “considerable growth” in gas exports over the next two years, even though Queensland plants were not operating at capacity. It’s our choice: renewable energy superpower or Asian Pacific rust belt Pat Conroy, he said some plants were not operating at capacity because there was oversupply in the market, and some projects had not sold some spot cargoes since April. “They’ve basically all put more gas back into the domestic market [in recent months], so they’re producing to contracted supply and spare gas is being offered to the domestic marketso there’s a bit of a switch happening.”

The Resources and Energy Quarterly, released on Friday, shows LNG is set to overtake metallurgical coal as Australia’s second largest resource and energy export in 2018-19, helping Australia to overtake Qatar as the world’s biggest exporter of LNG. Qatar exports 74m tonnes of LNG a year, a figure forecast to remain broadly stable over the next two years, according to the report.

Australia’s LNG export volumes are forecast to match 74m tonnes by 2018-19, up from 52.2m tonnes this year, with capacity growing to 88m tonnes when Wheatstone, Icthys and Prelude are completed. Hingegen, Qatar’s decision in April to lift its moratorium on new gas development at its huge North gas field may lead to a large expansion in its production. The forecast for Australia’s overall resources and energy export earnings in 2017–18 has been revised up in the September quarter by $4.1bn (2%) to a record $211bn.