CBI fearful of Scottish export order slowdown

Posted on 26 Oct 2011 by The Manufacturer

The CBI has today expressed fears over an expected slowdown in Scottish exports in sectors such as textiles, chemicals and food and drink.

After steady growth in the country over the past several years, due to the economic and political conditions abroad (most recently the sovereign debt crisis in the Eurozone) growth is grinding to a halt.

The CBI has warned that over the next three months, export orders are expected to contract at their fastest pace in four and a half years, following reasonably steady growth over the past seven consecutive quarters of growth.

New domestic orders in the three months to October remained negative for a second successive quarter, with expectations for the next three months the poorest since April 2009. Numbers employed turned negative during the three months, and are expected to remain subdued for the next quarter.

Director of CBI Scotland Iain McMillan said: “Worries over the problems in the Eurozone, the sustainability of sovereign debts more widely and the political will to deal with them, have grown, making conditions for our manufacturing exporters more challenging.”

He added that while he thought Scottish exporters had more obstacles to deal with that others, he felt government could do more to help. McMillan said that this is why “[CBI in Scotland] continue to argue that the Scottish Government’s spending plans should be improved in order to better galvanise growth. A far bolder approach to making savings is required, in order to release monies for further investment in infrastructure and support for exporters.”

McMillanalso attacked the Government’s decision to not go ahead with the third runway at Heathrow, arguing that it was critical for Scottish businesses “are able to access London’s key interlining airports in order to target key overseas markets or service foreign-based customers.”

Lesley Batchelor, director general of the Institute of Export (IOE) said: “Needless to say, it is not just Scottish exports that are affected by the sovereign debt crisis that is infecting the entire Eurozone. The only countries that may remain unaffected by the situation are China and some South American countries – the rest of us are now all suffering.

“Nevertheless, the Scottish Government have been prudent in that they spend proportionately more than the English regions on training for their international trade specialists who all follow rigorous IOE qualifications. When prospects improve Scots exporters will be well placed to maximise opportunities to sell overseas”

George Archer