Britain’s consumer electronics manufacturers could be forced to cut back production by the end of the year if Asian imports rise and prices continue to fall, a leading trade body warned this week.
Manufacturers of components for television sets and PC monitors would be the first hit, claimed the British Radio and Electronic Equipment Manufacturers Association (Brema). It said other consumer electronics goods could also be affected.
The warning comes as Dutch electronics firm Philips holds talks with the Department of Trade and Industry about the future of its UK television components operations, which employ more than 2,000 workers.
The company said it is looking for substantial grant aid to improve its three plants, which make TV tubes in Durham, Burnley and Washington, Tyne & Wear.
Philips said no decision has been made about the plants but the investment, if implemented, would have a ‘positive influence’ on these operations.
The UK market for television and PC monitors has been at record levels during the first half of this year, said Gerald Harvey, Brema’s head of economic services. Further new business is expected to come from the launch of digital television.
The UK produces about 10m television and PC monitors a year and the home market is its largest single customer.
However, prices of PC monitors are already falling, said Harvey, and volumes could drop too as competition increases from cheaper Asian imports.
Taiwanese company Lite-on, which makes PC monitors, recently announced the mothballing of its plant in Lanarkshire, Scotland.
This has raised fears about the future of an investment by the Chunghwa picture tube company which already employs 1,000 people on a nearby site. But the company maintains that its plans are unchanged.
Brema represents 14 consumer electronics companies based in Britain.