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Chemical and pharmaceutical businesses show confidence in the UK, but warn of challenges

19 May 2015

Most companies in Britain’s £50 billion chemical and pharmaceutical industry predict they will increase sales and exports in the next 12 months. The latest survey from the industry’s trade body, the Chemical Industries Association, shows a confident picture for the rest of 2015 and beyond. Nearly 60% of companies expect sales and export growth, while almost 50% of businesses will increase capital expenditure and grow employment numbers.

This good news has been welcomed by Steve Elliott, Chief Executive of the Association who said “These numbers, in the teeth of fierce global competition, reflect the hard work of chemical and pharmaceutical companies and their workforces’ right across the UK”.

Elliott also paid tribute to the level of research and development investment saying “R&D investment is key to UK growth and the fact that 98% of companies will maintain or grow their R&D commitment is a sign of confidence these companies – the majority of which are foreign headquartered – have in the UK”.

Looking at first quarter performance for the year, the sector is bucking the trend with stable growth compared to the relatively poor manufacturing growth performance. Almost half of chemical and pharmaceutical businesses recorded sales and exports growth. There was also stability in terms of employment, research & development investment and capital expenditure.

The survey also looked at opportunities and threats with companies seeking to expand their global market access and at the same time as being concerned by what happens to the sterling exchange rate, the European economy and energy & raw material prices.

Elliott concluded “We are at the centre of a global market and it is vital that the UK continues to attract chemical and pharmaceutical investment. In particular companies are worried about escalating energy and raw material costs. The new government must tackle this challenge urgently to allow the strong performance of our sector and its contribution to the UK to continue.”

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