London – Having warned about severe, potential downsides for business before the referendum, UK chemical and pharma makers were surprisingly upbeat in the immediate aftermath of the pro-Brexit vote – the Chemical Industries Association's (CIA) latest business-confidence survey shows.
Despite weakening second-quarter sales and exports, member companies surveyed by the CIA shrugged off post-Brexit concerns to register a positive, near-term outlook for their businesses.
In the association’s second quarter business survey, 80-90 percent of businesses ticked ‘remain the same or increase’ with regard to prospects for R&D investment, exports and sales over the next 12 months.
While some investment was expected to take a hit from Brexit uncertainty, three quarters of companies expected to maintain or increase capital investment expenditure, while 71 percent forecast employment levels to stay the same or rise.
The survey, conducted after the UK vote to leave the EU, did identify worries of uncertainty over our future relationship with the EU bloc and the exchange rate as some businesses reign in investment.
On the other hand, members felt there were opportunities for growth through expanded production capacity, new products coming on-line and other operational improvements.
A weaker sterling was also expected to boost exports, a vital driver of growth for the UK’s leading goods export sector, although as a consequence import costs will increase, the CIA noted.
“We are in uncertain times while the country exits the European Union, but our survey shows that there is still confidence that the UK can be a good place to do business,” said Steve Elliott, chief executive of the CIA.