Many UK firms which export goods are "treading water" at a time of deep uncertainty over issues such as Brexit, a new study suggests.
Almost two thirds of 3,400 firms surveyed by the British Chambers of Commerce and DHL said exchange rates were a concern to their business, indicating the pressure from sterling volatility.
The BCC and DHL said the results reflected the negative impact that slowing global trade, currency fluctuation and Brexit uncertainty was having, with export sales and orders weakening.
In the event of leaving the EU without a deal, businesses will face an "immediate and abrupt change" in trading conditions, for which many remain unprepared, said the report.
It added that business has been clear about wanting to avoid a "messy and disorderly" Brexit, urging the Government to ramp up its preparation.
Hannah Essex, of the BCC, said: "There is real frustration among business communities across the UK at the lack of clarity about trading conditions after the UK leaves the EU, and we're already seeing the impact of that uncertainty.
"While the majority of firms want the Government to avoid a messy and disorderly Brexit, we're calling on the Government to put practicalities first and implement measures to ensure firms are as prepared as possible for the whatever scenario they face.
"Maintaining preferential access to countries where the EU has trade agreements is critical to maintaining competitiveness in key markets."
Shannon Diett, of DHL Express, added: "Manufacturing and services firms are still reporting an increase in export orders, however, this is at a reduced level in comparison to this time last year."
"For businesses trading internationally in particular, preparing for a potential Brexit, including a no-deal scenario in March, then April and now October has absorbed considerable business resource.
"This diversion of focus and delay of investment represents a substantial opportunity cost for British business trading internationally.
"It is however essential that a renewed focus is placed on preparing for Brexit again in advance of the October 31 deadline.
"There are a number of practical steps that can be taken, despite the lack of clarity on future trading relations with Europe.
"Actions such as implementing digital customs paperwork solutions with your logistics provider, or obtaining an EORI number will help make the transition to new trade arrangements, regardless of the ultimate Brexit scenario, as seamless as possible for exporting businesses.