The report, by LLoyds Bank, found that the proportion of businesses that export had risen in the second half of 2015, from 35 per cent to 37 per cent, and those that export now make 40 per cent of their sales overseas, up from 37 per cent mid-way through 2015.
While 43 per cent of those surveyed grew their exports, 40 per cent maintained their level of overseas sales and just 17 per cent saw them fall.
A net balance of around one in three exporters expects to keep growing their overseas sales during the first half of 2016.
While this represents a fall of 11 points compared with the first half of 2015, 42 per cent of exporters still expect their ability to compete in international markets to improve in the first half of 2016, compared with just nine per cent who think it will deteriorate.
Steve Everett, of Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “While weakening growth in China and the Eurozone are creating headwinds for some exporters, it is heartening to see that so many SME exporters are generating more of their sales overseas and looking to grow those international sales in the year ahead.
“Starting or scaling-up export activity can be a daunting prospect for businesses, but the benefits are many and we are working hard to support British firms’ export ambitions.”
The Business in Britain report, now in its 24th year, tracks opinion on a range of important performance and confidence measures.
It found that Europe looks set to continue as the UK’s biggest trading partner, with more than a third predicting an uplift in sales there, against just 19 per cent expecting sales to fall.
Despite the slowdown in the Chinese economy, just 10 per cent expected sales to the Asia Pacific region – which includes China – to fall, compared with 24 per cent which expected them to keep growing.
And almost one in three expect to increase sales in the US and Canada, against just 18 per cent expecting sales there to fall.
Steve Everett added: “Despite some negative headlines, there are clearly still opportunities for British exporters to prosper. Our teams of locally-based relationship managers can provide the kind of insight, support and introductions that can be invaluable to firms setting out on their export journey.
“To that end we were the first British bank to form a strategic partnership with UKTI to provide advice and intelligence to our customers, and have committed to help 25,000 exporters by 2020 in our SME Charter.”