Belfast Telegraph

Manufacturing industry to 'lead us out of recession'

The manufacturing industry is capable of leading the economy further out of recession during 2011, its trade body will say today, with strong demand for exports - particularly from emerging markets - set to provide a further fillip to the sector.

The manufacturers' organisation EEF says the sector, which accounts for around 13% of the UK economy, will continue to outperform, and growth this year will be more balanced.

However, it also warned that many manufacturers continue to face significant headwinds as public spending cuts begin to bite.

The organisation is forecasting growth of 3.5% from British manufacturers this year, well ahead of the 2.1% for the economy as a whole. It estimates that last year manufacturing growth was 3.8%, and for 2012 it predicts 3%.

Lee Hopley, the EEF's chief economist, said: "At the start of 2010, shell-shocked from the worst recession in 80 years, forecasters across the country were wary of predicting anything more than very modest growth. Manufacturing now looks set to be at the heart of the rebalanced growth that the economy needs, with the sectors most exposed to international markets likely to post the highest growth."

But the EEF warned that if the eurozone crisis continues it could do real damage to exports. Emerging market orders have so far compensated for decreased demand from Europe, but any escalation could do many exporters great damage.

Access to finance also remains a problem.