Survey says smaller UK manufacturers already feeling Brexit strains

On Wednesday, an industry survey revealed that Britain’s process on its departure from the European Union has already affected 40 percent of small and medium-sized British manufacturers.

The business consultancies SWMAS and Economic Growth Solutions’ quarterly National Manufacturing Barometer chimed with other surveys revealing robust manufacturing activity currently, but nervousness about the future.

While 45 percent of small-and medium-sized (SME) manufacturers anticipated profits to increase over the next six months, a similar proportion believed that after Britain leaves the European Union, business conditions will worsen.

“SME manufacturers are sending a clear message to the government. The vast majority want to see free trade with the EU maintained to help minimise the cost of imports and keep red tape to a minimum,” said the chief executive of the Exelin Group, Simon Howes, who owns the SWMAS.

“Some manufacturers are already seeing the cost of materials rise due to recent falls in the value of sterling against the euro and uncertainty over the future of the UK’s trade arrangements with the EU.”

The study revealed that 41 percent of manufacturers believed that the Brexit process had already had a negative impact on their business.

Half of the respondents mentioned a free trade agreement with the European Union as their top priority. Earlier this month, Britain drafted plans for a future customs agreement with the European Union and an interim deal to reduce the Brexit concerns of companies.

Such proposals were described by a senior EU official as a “fantasy.”

The survey showed that investment intentions of SME manufacturers decreased compared to the previous quarter.

According to the newest official data, sources of growth such as net trade and investment have yet to compensate for the consumer-led slowdown, just as what the Bank of England hopes.

The National Manufacturing Barometer, which was conducted last July, had 331 respondents.