Engineering exports slip on no-deal Brexit fears

Scotland’s engineering exports have been knocked by “deep concern” over the impact of a potential no-deal Brexit, according to new research.

Scottish Engineering chief Paul Sheerin: 'The stark reality is that no-deal means wasted resource'. Picture: Andy Forman

The latest quarterly report from trade body Scottish Engineering shows industry exports are at negative levels unseen since 2016, dropping to a balance of -13 points from +5 in the previous quarter.

Overall output volume and business optimism in the sector also slipped below zero for the first time in three years.

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Scottish Engineering cited a “deep concern across industry that the new prime minister and cabinet are following a course with an unacceptably high probability of a no-deal Brexit”.

Staffing levels crept higher in the quarter, indicating investment in people and skills.

Three in ten engineering companies reported reliance on the availability of non-UK nationals in the workforce, while six in ten rejected the UK government’s proposed salary threshold of £30,000 for eligible roles.

Chief executive Paul Sheerin said: “The stark reality is that no-deal means wasted resource to secure work arounds, added costs for zero value and material uncertainty in business sustainability.

“The UK’s current position seems unthinkable, in that we have a situation where the government appears to be ignoring the very people and businesses – who actually understand what it takes to import and export the goods that sustain our society and economy. And they are saying quite clearly – whatever else you do, don’t do this.”