Manufacturers look past weak UK to grow in emerging markets

MOST British manufacturers believe emerging markets offer growth opportunities in 2012, while half worry that the UK’s economy will worsen, according to data out today from industry organisation EEF.

The economy will deteriorate according to 49 per cent of firms, while just 21 per cent expect an improvement this year. The Eurozone remains a major cause for worry.

“Faced with ongoing uncertainty, companies in the region have put a premium on maintaining cash and are holding off investment,” EEF said.

“More worryingly, customers from within the EU and beyond appear to be holding off placing orders.”

The group’s annual economic prospects report, also out today, points to access to finance as another concern, particularly for small firms.

However, more than 50 per cent expect to see increasing demand from new and emerging markets, and EEF’s central forecast is for “robust rates of growth in China, India and the rest of emerging Asia.”

“Manufacturing has proved to be agile and resilient through a bumpy recovery and companies are continuously looking for new sources of growth,” said EEF chief economist Lee Hopley.