Poll: UK manufacturers optimistic despite Brexit risks

Kays Factory worker Robert Holt operates a lathe to make a curling stone in Mauchline, Scotland January 11, 2018. — Reuters pic
Kays Factory worker Robert Holt operates a lathe to make a curling stone in Mauchline, Scotland January 11, 2018. — Reuters pic

LONDON, Jan 10 — British manufacturers are optimistic over the 2022 outlook but fear fresh Brexit fallout one year after the nation’s departure from the European Union, a survey showed today.

Industry body Make UK, representing 20,000 manufacturing companies across Britain, revealed the findings of its survey of 228 firms conducted with consultancy PwC.

The survey concluded that manufacturers “are more positive about the growth outlook as they enter 2022, with greater confidence in the prospects for their own companies than either the global or UK economies”.

Almost three quarters of respondents “expect conditions in manufacturing to improve” this year despite the Omicron variant affecting some output.

Two thirds insisted Britain remained a “competitive location” for manufacturing, but the same proportion also stated leaving the EU had hurt their business.

And 56 per cent of firms believed more Brexit woes will materialise this year.

Britain formally left the EU single market and customs union at the start of 2021.

“One year on from leaving the EU, two thirds of companies said that leaving had moderately or significantly hampered their business, with over a half of companies fearing a further impact this year from customs delays due to import checks and changes in product labelling,” Make UK said.

The manufacturing sector has also been hit by the ongoing global supply crunch — and soaring inflation caused largely by spiking energy costs.

“It’s testament to the strength of manufacturers that they have emerged from the turbulence of the last couple of years in such a relatively strong position,” added Make UK Chief Executive Stephen Phipson.

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“While clouds remain on the horizon in the form of rapidly escalating costs and access to key skills, the outlook is more positive for those that remain adaptable, agile and innovative.”

Trade was also affected by new Covid-19 border restrictions as Britain races to curb the rampant Omicron variant — but Make UK downplayed the impact on manufacturing.

“The majority of manufacturers have weathered the storm of the last couple of years,” it added.

“To date, the sector appears to have seen little or no disruption from the latest Omicron variant to alter this confidence.” — AFP


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