The latest from the Black Country 

Sharp Manufacturing Decline Nationally; ‘Bounce Back’ in Black Country

KeithBryan2016Commenting on the UK Index of Production figures for February 2016, published by the ONS last week, Keith Bryan, CEO of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, said:

“The worse than expected national manufacturing figures for February reinforce the assessment that GDP growth for Q1 2016 will show a slowdown compared with the fourth quarter. However, in the Black Country, 75% of manufacturers reported that their UK sales had increased or remained constant in Q1 2016 compared to 58% in Q4 2015. For export sales the figure was 78% for Q1 as compared to 66% last quarter. A healthy manufacturing base remains critical for the UK economy in areas such as productivity, innovation and exports. While the UK manufacturing sector still retains key areas of strength, more effort is needed to help the sector compete against global headwinds, which will enable us to retain a vibrant manufacturing base to support future economic growth.”

Manufacturing output in February 2016 was -1.1% on the month, and -1.8% on the year. Total industrial production in February 2016 was -0.3% on the month, and -0.5% on the year.

Also announced last week was the small improvement in trade figures: The UK trade deficit in goods and services was £4.8 billion in February, a narrowing of £0.4 billion from the January 2016 figure. In the three months to February 2016, the total deficit widened significantly compared with the previous three months.

Keith went on to say: “In spite of the small improvement in February, the latest figures are disappointing. The January deficit was revised down, and over the past three months we have seen the largest deficit since the first quarter of 2008. It is particularly concerning that in the last three months exports fell while imports rose. Coming after the record current account deficit, these figures reinforce our view that much more is needed to boost our export performance. This must include a greater emphasis on helping firms to break into new and growing markets. The worst thing the government can do at the moment is take its foot off the pedal as regards supporting small business exports. What businesses need is face to face time with export professionals who can allay their concerns and provide them with the best information money can buy. This should be a key component, and a priority, of a balance of trade strategy which, in turn, is vital to our overall economic wellbeing.”

Last modified on Tuesday, 12 April 2016 09:06

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