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Manufacturing output showing signs of slowdown

Commenting on the manufacturing and industrial figures published by the ONS, Ninder Johal, President of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, said: "Although year on year growth for manufacturing and total industrial output remains satisfactory, more recent figures show clear signs of a slowdown. Manufacturing output eased between the first and second quarters of 2014, and the most recent figures show flat growth over the past three months - which points towards a further reduction for the third quarter of the year.

"Even though total UK GDP is now 2.7% above its pre-recession level, manufacturing output is still more than 4% below its pre- recession level. The sector has maintained much of its skills base during the downturn, however, manufacturing exporters are facing many challenges in the face of weak demand in the euro zone and a sterling exchange rate, which has recorded net rises over the past year. The manufacturing sector is now just over 10% of the total UK economy and is a very important driver of innovation export and investment. Its success remains crucial to a balanced UK recovery.

"Years of neglect by successive governments have led our region and manufacturing in general to play catch up with the rest of the world. Our most recent survey shows that both UK and export sales and orders are down for Black Country manufacturers. Government needs to understand that our businesses need a better road infrastructure, the ability to determine and resolve their own skills issues and more support for exporting. Perhaps devolved powers will enable the Midlands as a whole to drive an agenda for change appropriate to the industrial heart of the UK.

"The Black Country Chamber of Commerce is helping businesses to overcome the barriers to exporting through our Export Expert and UKTI programmes but without the radical investment in infrastructure and skills we have been asking for, our economic reliance on the services sector and financial services in particular will once again put any hope of long term recovery in jeopardy."

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