U.K. Companies Spooked by Euro Crisis Diversify Trade, Poll Says

An increasing number of British businesses are shifting the focus of their international operations from crisis-hit European markets toward Asia and North America, according to a survey.

Of the 1,000 small and medium sized companies polled by Western Union Co., only half said they now trade with Europe, down from 78 percent three years ago. Fewer than half named Europe their primary market for foreign commerce.

Western Union, the world’s biggest money-transfer business, attributed the decline to concerns that Europe’s economy is too turbulent at a time when Greece’s membership of the euro is in doubt and the U.K. government is planning a referendum on membership of the European Union.

“The European economy has been incredibly volatile in recent months,” Tony Crivelli, U.K. managing director at Western Union Business Solutions, said in a report. “Meanwhile, Asia and North America have continued to grow as key trading partners and they are quickly catching up to their European counterpart.

Twenty-three percent of firms said they export to North America, while the same number identified China as a key export market.