Confidence falls among North West manufacturers as Brexit ‘limbo’ continues

Make UK the manufacturers’ organisation and business advisory firm BDO, have released their latest research into the sector across the region. Tony McDonough reports

manufacturers, manufacturing
Manufacturers in the North West urgently need clarity on Brexit, says Make UK

 

Weaker global growth and uncertainty over Brexit has hit confidence among North West manufacturers in the first few weeks of 2019, a new survey reveals.

Make UK the manufacturers’ organisation and business advisory firm BDO, have released their latest research into the sector across the region which reveals domestic orders have fallen to a balance of 10%, lower than the UK average, while confidence in the sector fell too for the second quarter in a row.

Export orders

However, positive news can be taken from the growth in export orders for North West manufacturers, which have bounced back to a balance of 29%. A positive picture is also painted by the investment intentions of manufacturers across the region too.

Local companies have bucked the national trend, with intentions increasing by a balance of 10% since the zero balance of last quarter.

Nationally, for the first time since 2016, domestic orders are stronger than exports. Despite a strong performance by North West manufacturers, UK-wide exports have been hindered by a slowdown in import appetite from other countries and have been unable to pick-up since the very sharp drop in the previous quarter which delivered a disappointing end to 2018.

Certainty needed

June Smith, regional manager for Make UK in the North, said: “It is clearly good news for the region that exports figures have grown, however it is no surprise that all the economic forecasts indicate that this will not last.

“Manufacturing needs certainty over Brexit to boost investment and to protect the jobs of nearly 3m people working in the sector across the UK. Manufacturing needs a deal and time is running out.

“It has been just under six weeks since the Withdrawal Agreement put forward by the Prime Minister was soundly rejected by the UK Parliament, yet we are still hanging in limbo with no agreement amongst politicians about our future direction.

“This has to stop and it has to stop now. Manufacturers in the region are crying out for clarity.”

The latest forecast, based on soft Brexit, would see the UK economy expanding by 1.1% and 1.7% in 2020. But for manufacturing, Make UK is predicting a 0.3% contraction this year with a bounce back of 1.4% in 2020.

However, business investment after a bad 2018 won’t be able to recover until 2020 even if Brexit situation is solved quickly.

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