A failure to agree a EU/UK deal on trade by the end of 2020 could do, ‘significant damage’, damage to North West businesses, the manufacturers’ organisation, Make UK (formerly the Engineering Employers’ Federation, which represents manufacturers in the United Kingdom) claims.
This stark warning from Make UK, says the sector, which accounts for 15% of our regional economy and employs 342,000 people in the North West, almost one in 10 of the total workforce was made in the, The Make UK/BDO annual survey and emphasises the crucial importance of the sector to the North West economy and how its success is underpinned by its strong relationship with the EU.
Firms in the region are already under struggling from the COVID-19 pandemic. Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) which employs around 4,000 people in Merseyside, has said it would be cutting 1000 jobs across the UK and, in the last few days, the plane maker, Airbus said more than 1400 jobs would be going from its operations base in Deeside.
Both the automotive and aerospace industries are mentioned in the Make/BDO report which emphasises how both sectors have been hit by the double whammy of Brexit uncertainty and COVID-19.
Transport equipment is still the biggest manufacturing area in the North West, accounting for just under a fifth of output (17.7%) while the chemicals and pharmaceutical divisions are also significant contributors to regional economy, accounting for just under a 33% of output between them.
Pharmaceuticals especially is a strong performer and has profited from the spike in demand due to coronavirus, leading to the North West becoming the country’s most productive area at 118% of the national average.
June Smith, director of member engagement for Make UK in the North, said: “There are well documented challenges going forward, not least the major impact of COVID-19 and the global economic downturn, the results of which are likely to be felt for some time. Furthermore, the outcome of Brexit has the potential to have an impact on the future performance of manufacturers in the North West given the exposure to the EU as a major export market. If we are to avoid a double whammy hit on the sector it is essential that the UK agrees a trade deal before the end of the year that prevents barriers to trade.”
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