Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK are looking at China for future growth, research by Western Union Business Solutions, a consulting arm of the financial services giant, revealed. In its survey of more than 1000 UK-based SMEs, 25% of respondents named China as the most promising market for export opportunities, despite the country's recent slowdown in GDP growth.

Other BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries did not fare nearly as well. India was cited by just 4% of respondents as a good growth market, Brazil was named so by just 2% and Russia by 1%. Apart from China, UK companies expect to see sales growth in developed markets. Europe is seen as a source of growth by 22% SMEs surveyed and North America by 18%.

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The survey also revealed that, while 81% of respondents feel confident about the UK's domestic climate (down from 86% in the previous quarter but up 68% compared with the same period last year), they are increasingly looking at international expansion opportunities. One in three respondents stated that they expect to expand their customer base abroad within the next six to 12 months, while 35% said that increasing their international trade had helped with revenue growth in the past 12 months.

While European markets are the main destination for UK SMEs, and 53% of respondents say that developed markets in western Europe will remain their largest international market, 23% of them see emerging markets as the main future driver of trade growth, compared with 18% that cite developed markets.