“UK manufacturing is having to contend with a rollercoaster of risks from the rest of the world” (Lee Hopley, Chief Economist at the EEF) and 2015 has certainly been a case in point.
The General Election in May produced a surprising Conservative majority and with it came the uncertainly of a looming referendum on EU membership. Ongoing discussions around the Transatlantic Trade Partnership (TTIP) famed as the ‘biggest bilateral trade deal in history,’ together with price rises in China eroding the cost advantage of production, are producing both political and economic challenges for the sector. UK manufacturers are considering reshoring both their manufacturing operations and also their supply chain to drive efficiencies, de-risk and drive up quality, but with widespread currency instability in the Eurozone and ongoing skill shortages the future doesn’t look straightforward. That said, the sector has a positive outlook – production is on the increase, access to finance is proving less of a challenge, and new technology is positioning the UK as a global leader.