The U.K. manufacturing industry has seen a grinding fall in export growth and confidence as problems in the global economy hurt demand.
The pound was slightly higher, up 0.05%, at $1.5425.
As the British Chambers of Commerce reported this morning, exporters are at their darkest since the time of the last recession.
Businesses surveyed for the Trade Confidence Index, say that sales and orders growth is now at its weakest in six years.
The BCC warns that while export orders have remained constant for just over half (54%) of U.K. businesses, and 50% report that export sales have remained the same as in the previous quarter, both have dropped to their lowest since the second quarter of 2009.
Britain is going to struggle to fill in its hefty trade gap with the rest of the world, given the economic
problems in the eurozone and many emerging markets, the report says.
The BCC also reported that:
- 50% of businesses report export sales have remained constant, 21% report a decline (up from 15% in Q2).
- 54% of businesses report export orders have remained constant, 22% report a decline (up from 17% in Q2).
- 13% of exporters say that during the previous quarter they have seen a decline in investment in plant and machinery.
It is disturbing, at at time when growth is slowing in China, America and Canada, and remains weak in Europe.
John Longworth, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, is afraid that the sector is balancing on the verge of a serious crisis:
“Driving export growth is key to reducing the UK’s deficit and maintaining our global competitiveness. These figures make it clear that the UK’s export drive is at risk of going into reverse gear, precisely at the time when it needs to be moving forward."
“Many firms are currently operating at capacity and are in need of support to invest in machinery or staff. Those businesses considering taking the leap and breaking into new markets desperately need access to the growth funding and working capital to enable this transformation."