LONDON—United Kingdom chemicals makers are defying all forecasts of doom following last year's Brexit vote with strong growth in production and exports, and positive spending plans for the year ahead, according to Chemical Industries Association officials.
At a press briefing, CIA economist Nick Sturgeon reported "continuing optimism" among member companies about prospects for the next 12 months. He also noted "a continuing hold-up on employment, R&D and investment."
This year has seen an increase in chemicals production volume—as much as 1.5 percent when compared to the same period of 2016, which saw a decline in production volume, according to Sturgeon. He linked this change to the current favorable exchange rate for U.K. exporters. However, he also noted "quite positive" growth among European Union chemicals manufacturers.
These trends were also reflected in the CJA's latest quarterly business survey, with member companies particularly upbeat about prospects for next 12 months.
"We expected the optimism around sterling's competiveness, but not that it would feature so strongly in this quarter's survey," said Steve Elliot, chief executive of the London-based association.
Elliot went on to say that he was "a little bit surprised" by the survey findings and pointed to concerns about future investment intentions in view of the up-coming Brexit negotiations.
For his part, Sturgeon linked optimism after the Brexit referendum to "people realizing that it was not going to be the end of the world any time soon."
The analyst concluded: "We have seen a more positive set of expectations from last year and that has included following through on existing investment plans.
"What is unclear are new investment plans. Some companies may be holding back to see how the outlook develops."