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Chemical sector enjoys growth as Industrial Strategy sector deal delights

THE chemical and pharmaceutical sector – the largest exporter of manufactured goods with annual exports of £50 billion – is continuing to grow according to the latest survey of the Chemical Industries Association. 

Chemical sector enjoys growth as Industrial Strategy sector deal delights

Member companies, many of whom operate on the Humber Bank, report the strongest employment growth over the past three months since 2015 with a balance of 12 per cent reporting an increase in jobs to the sector’s 140,000 direct workforce. Sales, with 13 per cent of respondents reporting volume growth, and six per cent seeing increased exports, remained stable.

The outlook for the next 12 months is tempered by Brexit uncertainty, but capital investment, anticipated by 30 per cent, research and development expenditure  (24 per cent) and further recruitment (15 per cent) are also set to continue to grow over the next year. It is the longer term investment that is a worry, until the Brexit position is clearer.

Chief executive of the association, Steve Elliott, said: “We continue to work on Brexit and all the issues surrounding it which of course are critical, but chemical and pharmaceutical businesses do not want the whole issue to dominate everything they do. 

“While our outlook is tempered by Brexit uncertainty, there are genuine and exciting opportunities for the sector in the UK building on our excellent university links, pushing forward innovation, developing supply chains and moving to a new energy future. Much of this work is done in regions of the UK where employment is desperately needed. This latest set of results reflects the hard work of the women and men who lead and work in chemical and pharmaceutical businesses across the UK. Long may it continue.”

It comes as the recently released Industrial Strategy brought forward an industry sector deal for the UK life sciences industry.

Mr Elliott welcomed it as “another positive signal that will encourage chemical businesses to continue investing in the UK”. The deal draws substantial investment into the sector from across the world, ensuring that the next wave of breakthrough treatments, innovative medical research and technologies, and high skilled jobs are created in Britain.

Mr Elliott said: “As key providers of solutions to the life sciences sector, this is an extremely welcome early Christmas present for chemical businesses across the UK. The areas of work that the life sciences sector will now undertake present important opportunities for the chemical industry and I know through the close working partnership we already have there will be close alignment which I hope and believe will result in substantial long term growth.”

The sector deal will look at research, clinical trials and business environment. He added: “As the chemical industry finalises its own sector deal proposals, the UK will have two international beacons of success at the heart of our economy delivering for our country. That is good news for science, for jobs and for all regions of the UK.”

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