LONDON—Sales and export volumes among United Kingdom-based chemicals manufacturers continue to rise, the Chemical Industries Association reported in its latest survey of member companies.
Most producers are upbeat about prospects for the year ahead, with 50 percent of companies expecting exports to increase over the next 12 months compared to only 6 percent expecting a decrease.
Meanwhile, a third of companies saw the now expanding European economy as an opportunity for the next 12 months. The CIA said the EU is the sector's biggest export market with 60 percent of exports going to the bloc.
Survey results indicate most firms anticipate increases in both capital expenditure and research and development spending. Employee numbers also are expected to rise at the fastest rate since early 2015, the industry association said.
Some 41 percent of companies expect to increase capital expenditure over the next 12 months, with only 9 percent expecting to lower spending. No company expected to reduce R&D spending, while 21 percent will increase R&D spending, the survey found.
"Both are very good news for an investment- and innovation-intensive sector," the CIA said. "New jobs in the chemical sector mean more well-paid jobs often in regions of the U.K. where employment is most needed."
Brexit, however, continues to cast a shadow. CIA CEO Steve Elliott said that the survey also found that trading uncertainty already was weighing down exports and potential increases in regulatory costs was a big concern for chemical businesses.
Elliot urged the U.K. government to provide clarity over the future trading and regulatory relationship with the European Union 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 U.K.