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Manufacturing in the face of Brexit
Our latest Trade Barometer paints a picture of a manufacturing sector which, by and large, is rolling up its sleeves and getting on with the job.
Optimistic about growth
The survey shows that manufacturers remain positive, with more than 70% expecting to grow their business over the next three years.
Domestic and export order balances remain strong, although inflation has raised prices both at home and abroad.
On a less positive note, almost 58% of companies report difficulties in finding and recruiting new staff.
Uncertainties clearly remain ahead of Brexit and the future of the Free Trading Agreement with the EU is causing the greatest concern - no surprise, given that 71% of companies in the sector trade internationally.
Almost 43% of companies surveyed reported that they think Brexit will have a negative effect on their business.
There is evidence in the latest Barometer, however, that Brexit fears are being overtaken by more pressing issues, such as the rise of protectionism in overseas markets, currency volatility and the threat of interest rate rises.
Adapting to change
Worryingly, only 49% of companies surveyed stated that they had put plans in place or made preparations to address the impact of leaving the EU.
With the agreement of a 21-month transition period delaying Britain’s departure until the end of 2020, there is a risk that companies will lose the sense of urgency needed to adapt to a changing trading environment.
Terry Scuoler CBE, Santander's Manufacturing Sector Advisor, commented:
My message to companies is, as ever, that competitiveness is crucial. Continued investment in modern plant and equipment, improved process flows and up-skilling - at all levels - is vital if companies are to prosper.
The key messages for policy makers emerging from the Trade Barometer include the need for the continued flow of labour at all levels, as frictionless-as-possible trade with the EU after Brexit, support for training and encouragement for companies exporting or planning to export in the future.
Read about how we help customers in the Manufacturing industry.