Belfast Telegraph

UK's manufacturing growth stagnating, warns BCC

By Alan Jones

Manufacturing in the UK is "close to stagnation" amid falling domestic and export sales, according to a study. The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said a survey of 7,500 firms showed exports in the services sector had also fallen. Services firms remained "resilient" to pressure from the global economy, but manufacturers continued to struggle, added the report.

The research, covering the final three months of 2015, suggested positive economic growth in 2016, albeit at a slower pace, built mainly off the back of companies in the services industry. But firms in both sectors said they faced increased pressure for pay hikes.

John Longworth, director general of the BCC, said: "While these latest figures demonstrate growth, it is clear that there are warning signs of potential trouble ahead.

"The declines across the board should send a message to Government that UK firms are in desperate need of a favourable business environment, not more administrative burdens.

"It is not enough to rely upon consumer spending and the housing market to grow the economy, nor to rely purely on services to drive export growth.

"We need a rebalanced economy if we are to continue punching above our weight. The quality and variety of our goods and services is what gives Brand Britain its strength overseas."

The BCC urged the Government to make 2016 a "year of action" on infrastructure, skills and finance.

Northern Ireland industry group Manufacturing NI also predicted a "flat year" for manufacturing.

Chief executive Stephen Kelly said: "Conditions outside of our local control will continue to be a large drag, and we expect it will result in a pretty flat year in 2016 across manufacturing."

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