Latest survey from EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, and accountancy firm BDO, showed an upturn in confidence in the last three months, despite the uncertainty over Brexit. Tony McDonough reports
Manufacturers in the North West are reporting a rise demand from both the UK and overseas during the summer months.
The latest survey from EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, and accountancy firm BDO, showed an upturn in confidence in the last three months, despite the uncertainty over the final Brexit deal.
The output balance rose to a healthy 43% after last quarter’s dip. Underpinning this activity was a boost in the domestic orders balance (up from 29% to 32%) and more pertinently healthy foreign demand.
In fact, the export balance is the strongest of any region at 54%, as dominant sectors in the North West, such as pharmaceuticals, enjoy an upturn in activity. This boost in activity is helping to spur increased employment, with the employment balance more than doubling over last three months.
Conversely the survey also points to a fall in investment, which dipped back slightly, but remains healthy – down to 21% from 29% last quarter. The largely positive trend is reflected nationally, as industry demonstrates its resilience but risks are mounting.
Looking ahead, confidence about firm level prospects is proving to be more durable than might have been expected, but the threat of escalating trade tensions and heightened concerns about a Brexit outcome that fails to deliver frictionless trade could quickly make trading conditions more difficult.
Richard Halstead, EEF director of member Eengagement for the North, said: “There are both reasons for cheer and caution in our latest survey.
“UK manufacturers in many industries are continuing to benefit from growth in the global economy; expanding their exports and driving ahead with new investments. But this is not an industry-wide phenomenon.
“Trade tensions, the Brexit debate reaching a crescendo and some wobbles in confidence about the UK’s economic outlook continue to make their presence felt across a number of manufacturing sectors.”