The potential of many UK exporters is being held back by uncertainty over Brexit, tariffs and exchange rate volatility, according to a new report.
A study by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and Bibby Financial Services suggested that the lack of clarity over the UK's future trading environment was "clearly taking its toll".
A survey of 1,140 businesses found that Brexit uncertainty was the main barrier to exporting. Only a minority of firms that only trade in the UK expect to start exporting or importing goods over the next three years, said the report.
BCC director general Dr Adam Marshall said: "UK businesses are facing unprecedented levels of uncertainty on multiple trading fronts and, unsurprisingly, they're holding back on importing and exporting.
"Just this week, the Government finally provided some certainty around tariffs - but the damage of uncertainty was already done for many firms.
"While international trade always involves an element of risk for businesses, Government should be working to lower barriers rather than increasing them."
Edward Winterton, CEO at Bibby Financial Services said: "Importers and exporters are in limbo and many are postponing investment decisions while they await further information."