London – Sales volumes and export volumes among UK chemicals manufacturers are continuing to rise, the Chemical Industries Association (CIA) has reported in its latest survey of member companies.
Most producers are upbeat about prospects for the year ahead, with 50% of companies expecting exports to increase over the next 12 months compared to only 6% expecting a decrease.
Meanwhile, a third of companies saw the now expanding European economy as an opportunity over the next 12 months, added the CIA, noting that the EU is the sector’s biggest export market with 60% of exports going to the bloc.
Further increases in both capital expenditure and R&D spending with employee numbers expected to rise at the fastest rate since early 2015, the industry association continued.
Some 41% of companies expect to increase capital expenditure over the next 12 months with only 9% expecting to lower spending. No company expected to reduce R&D spending, while 21% will increase R&D spending, the survey found.
“Both are very good news for an investment- and innovation-intensive sector,” said the CIA. “New jobs in the chemical sector mean more well-paid jobs often in regions of the UK where employment is most needed.”
Brexit, however, continues to cast a shadow: CIA chief executive Steve Elliott noting that the survey also found “trading uncertainty was already weighing down exports and potential increases in regulatory costs was a big concern for chemical businesses.”
Elliot urged the UK government “to provide clarity over the future trading and regulatory relationship with the EU to ensure frictionless tariff free trade, regulatory consistency and access to skilled people are essential to maintaining the growth of the chemical sector across the UK.”