The Government’s attempt to boost international trade has failed to connect UK businesses with overseas opportunities, the accounting regulator ICAEW has claimed.

It slammed the Department for International Trade (DIT) for wasting millions of pounds in a campaign which was designed to double the level of UK exports to £1 trillion by 2020.

But the money invested so far has failed to translate into a rush among new companies to do business overseas, said ICAEW.

Its research found that the percentage of businesses exporting (currently 53 per cent) has stayed virtually the same as it was in 2014.

Likewise, of the 47 per cent of businesses not currently exporting, a staggering 96 per cent said they had no plans to sell overseas in the next 12 months.

Just one per cent of non-exporting businesses said they will export this year, with a further one per cent “thinking about it”.

Researchers also found that appetite to expand existing exports to new markets is dwindling. Just 25 per cent of exporting businesses said they will look to broaden the scope of their markets, compared to 33 per cent of respondents in 2014.

“This research illustrates that government is failing to encourage businesses to export goods internationally,” said Stephen Ibbotson, ICAEW’s director of business.

“In a post Brexit world where business confidence is low and investment sluggish, it’s important that exporting is incentivised.”

Mr Ibbotson has called on the DIT to consider new paths to persuade the business community to export.

For instance, the DIT could use some of its money to introduce a voucher scheme for companies researching and developing in overseas markets, he suggests.

Commenting on the research, a DIT spokesperson said, “These findings show many British businesses are unaware of international opportunities and the help that exists to put these within their reach.

“There is a global demand for British goods and services and DIT is committed to supporting UK companies as they take the first steps on their exporting journey.”