Manufacturing sector tops £1 billion in 2006

According to the Manufacturing Technologies Association, in 2006, exports of manufacturing technology equipment from the UK were worth £1.021 billion, an increase of +9% on the 2005 level.

On the same basis, imports rose by +15% to reach £1.063 billion. This gave the UK a trade deficit of -£42.4 million compared to a surplus of +£13.2 million in 2005.

Andrew Manly, MTA Director General commented: “The move from surplus to deficit reflects the strength of the UK market during 2006 which generates a significant increase in imports. However, at the same time, exports also increased, which shows that the UK is able to play its part in the world market for engineering goods which was buoyant last year.”

Within this total, exports of metal working machine tools from the UK were worth £477.8 million, also +9% higher than in 2005; imports increased by +24% (which is broadly in line with the UK market) to £500.9 million, giving a deficit for machine tools of -£23.1 million.

For exports of machine tools, while deliveries to the European Union fell (-8%), there was a sharp rise in exports to the “rest of the world”, led by the USA (+31%), India (+23%) and Japan (+76%). Although exports to China were -23% lower than in 2005, the level (£33.7 million) was the second highest on record, just beating the 1995 figure.

Imports of metal working machine tools saw the opposite trend with a large increase in arrivals from the European Union (+37% for the EU15 countries) and a more modest rise (+14%) in imports from elsewhere.

The tooling sector also had a small trade deficit (-£9 million), with exports +3% higher than in 2005 at £264.5 million and imports increasing by +8% to £274.6 million. In 2006, exports to the EU countries account for 69% of the total, while for imports this percentage is only slightly lower at 65%.

Outside of the EU, the largest export market was the USA, although at £20 million, it accounted for less than 10% of the total. For imports there is more diversity, with both Japan (£36.7 million) and the USA (£30.0 million) being significant non-European sources of tooling.

The third category in the MTA’s definition of manufacturing technology is a combination of work-holding equipment and parts & accessories (the latter group accounts for the majority of trade in this category).

Overall, these items also recorded a trade deficit of -£9 million, with exports worth ££278.4 million in 2006 (an increase of +16% on 2005) and imports valued at £287.5 million (+9% higher than the previous year).

For this category, the EU countries are not the main trading partners, accounting for only 31% of exports, although the ratio for imports is higher at 54%. The largest export markets were the USA (£49.1 million) and India (£31.2 million), while the main sources of imports (apart from Germany which dominates the EU in this category) were the USA (£49.1 million) and Japan (£42.7 million).