Strong year for manufacturing masks future doubts

Manufacturing firms have enjoyed an 'exceptional' 12 months but there are concerns whether investment and job creation can be maintained, according to a report.

Monday, 23rd July 2018, 7:00 am
The last 12 months has seen a very strong picture for UK manufacturing

All parts of the UK except Scotland have created more manufacturing jobs since 2010, research by the EEF found.

The manufacturers’ organisation said the strong performance of the past year came amid buoyant world markets.

But there are worries about a disorderly Brexit, global trade tensions and relatively weak investment, said the report.

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A number of regions have strong exposure to the EU, making them potentially vulnerable to a hard Brexit, including Wales, where almost two-thirds of manufacturing exports go to Europe, the North East (59% to the EU), East Midlands (54.9%), and East of England (52.5% ), said the EEF.

Lee Hopley, chief economist at EEF, said: “The last 12 months has seen a very strong picture for manufacturing with all parts of the country benefiting from the strength of global markets.

“While all regions have seen their manufacturing sectors enjoy positive output and orders the investment outlook across the UK has been consistently, and disappointingly, subdued. In large part we’ve got ongoing uncertainty about Brexit to thank for that.

“This domestic uncertainty is now being exacerbated by global trade tensions which could add up to potentially different dynamics over the next year.”

Tom Lawton, of business advisory firm BDO LLP, which helped with the study, said: “The Government cannot afford to lose focus on the importance of UK manufacturing as we endure the twists and turns of EU negotiations.”