Exporters not ready for euros

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Almost two-thirds of British exporters have no plans to issue invoices in euros a head of the full introduction of the single currency in the New Year, a high street bank warned today.

Only 37 per cent of UK firms involved in export are billing their currencies in euros, Lloyds TSB said. Twelve European currencies – not including the UK – are being abolished in January to make way for the new currency.

Lloyds TSB said that although this was an improvement from 31 per cent a year ago, its latest figure was "surprisingly low".

Ben Smith, head of international corporate and commercial business for the bank, said firms risked missing out on business opportunities.

"Many firms seem to be unaware, or worse, sticking their heads in the sand and leaving the practical preparation for the switch to the single currency to the last minute," he said.

"This could indicate that exporters have yet to address the euro issue or indeed are missing the business implications."

The survey of 1,700 small- and medium-sized firms also found that just over a third reported an increase in new orders while a quarter said their order book had shrunk.

The balance of plus 11 per cent for the first six months of the year is a rise on the balance of plus 8 per cent for the second half of 2000.