Europe takes longer to pay British exporters than any other region in the world, according to a new survey carried out by credit insurer NCM.

The study of around 900 exporters showed that 37% of businesses experienced a delay in payment when trading with the continent, compared with 15% for North America.

Italy, France, Greece and Spain were the worst late-payment offenders.

The Cardiff-based insurer's survey also had interesting findings for the single currency, showing that 48% of firms now have a policy for dealing with the euro, although over half believe its impact on business will only be small.

Meanwhile Government support did not rate well, with 87% believing it to be either average or poor. Banks rated better, however, with 59% of firms saying they believed their requirements were being met.

Eighty-two per cent of insurers reported credit protection to be the main reason for exporters to hold an insurance policy, though according to NCM only 38% of exporters actually use purchased credit insurance.