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UK Manufacturers Brace for “Year of Risks” in 2017

January 9, 2017
EEF said its survey of UK manufacturers' outlook for 2017 is laden wth concerns about the impacts of Brexit, global economic uncertainties. Image courtesy of Flickr user Javier Micora
EEF said its survey of UK manufacturers' outlook for 2017 is laden wth concerns about the impacts of Brexit, global economic uncertainties. Image courtesy of Flickr user Javier Micora

46% of manufacturers in the United Kingdom said their companies will encounter more risks than opportunities in 2017 in the wake of Brexit and facing uncertainties in UK and international politics, according to a recently-released survey by the Engineering Employers Federation (EEF), one of the UK’s foremost organizations representing manufacturers.

“Global political upheaval means that 2017 looks set to be another bumpy ride, with manufacturers forced to navigate uncertainty, unpredictable economic conditions, and a number of risks that have been amplified by Brexit,” the organization’s chief executive officer, Terry Scuoler, said in a press release Monday.

Less than half (47%) of the EEF survey respondents said they expect economic conditions in the UK to get worse over the coming year, and 36% of those surveyed said they anticipate global economic conditions to decline during the period. The organization said that global demand is projected to remain weak in 2017, creating challenges for manufacturers to enter new export markets.

Brexit has caused worry among UK manufacturers regarding the costs of input costs, volatility in major markets, and exchange rate movements, according to EEF’s findings, including perceptions about sourcing from the UK.

“Against this backdrop, a smooth journey is far from guaranteed, but firms are strongly attuned to the challenges and remain focused and determined to deliver on their long-term plans for growth,” said Scuoler. “With a new digitally-driven industrial era on the horizon and everything to play for, this long-term vision and focus is vital – despite the peaks and troughs manufacturers cannot afford to be diverted away from where they need to be.”

Over half of respondents (56%) said they plan to gain productivity advancements through process innovations in 2017, and 50% said plans are afoot to increase investment in technology and innovation. EEF said other “strong efforts” will be made in diversification to new export markets, brand and marketing, and the commercialization of new technology and product developments.

The unpredictable nature of global economics in 2017 is propelling UK manufacturers to focus on their long-term growth plans, the organization said.

“In many ways 2017 is likely to be another unprecedented year of change and uncertainty, but the UK manufacturing sector remains ambitious, resilient, and adaptable. These strengths, coupled with firms’ sophisticated and dynamic business strategies should help keep our sector on course,” said Scuoler.

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