As this is the first Friday Brief of 2021, it still seems appropriate to wish everyone a Happy New Year from everyone in the MTA Team even though we are a full week into the year.
Our lead items this week are, as they were in 2020, around Brexit and Coronavirus. We have a specific article on the issue of Rules of Origin which are the main determinant of the tariff free trade between the UK and the EU. The essence of the problem is that the completion of the Brexit process means an increased requirement to show that goods traded between the UK and the EU meet the rules of origin requirements because there is now a border in place. As a result of the trade agreement that was concluded on Christmas Eve, the general principles have not changed, only the requirement to show compliance in order to claim “free trade”. We have also included, in a separate article, a range of links on other Brexit related topics which members may find useful.
On Coronavirus, there is also a range of guidance available and we highlight some of this in our item this week, although we recommend that you start from the home page on the gov.uk web-site to get to the topic of interest to you as this will always lead to the latest guidance in an ever changing environment.
We are specifically interested to hear from members if you are having particular problems arising either from the Coronavirus lockdown or trading issues arising from Brexit. We cannot promise to resolve them directly, but we will take them to someone who should be able to provide an answer. It will also help us build up a picture of whether or not there are wide-spread problems in our industry or if these are relatively one-off issues. If you have anything to report, please contact Geoff Noon at MTA (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Before we move off the topic of trade, we also have an item this week on the new Comprehensive Agreement on Investment between the EU and China.
The main economic news this week was the PMI data for manufacturing which was generally positive with most countries/regions that we track seeing an improvement between November and December. This included both the UK and the Euro-zone; there are a handful of countries where the PMI fell in the latest reading but only Greece, Russia and Mexico have the PMI below the crucial 50 level (Japan is exactly on this neutral point).
The other economic news this week is mainly bringing together data that was published before Christmas but after our final Friday Brief for 2020. The UK National Accounts showed a small upward revision to the GDP estimate for the 3rd quarter of 2020 but unfortunately the detailed investment data that is normally part of this publication has been delayed again. The CBI Industrial Trends Survey suggests only a modest downturn in manufacturing output with an improvement in order books, although the latter measure is still below its long-run average. The data from the USA also points to an improvement in business levels in our industry but, again, at relatively low levels. Finally on this theme, the latest data-set for the BEAMA Contract Price Adjustment service and the 3rd quarter edition of the CECIMO Toolbox are both available.
The MTA Business Survey for December opened at the start of the week and you can let us have your input via the web-site at www.mta.org.uk/mta-business-survey-dec20.
In other articles this week, we have news of a webinar being run by Croner, our HR advice partner, next Thursday looking at the key HR topics for 2021 and details of the conference being organised by ECTA in June. Our colleagues at NPL have also announced the next in their series of measurement strategy webinars, with this one looking at skills. There is also news of a new BSI work proposal on robotics and, finally, the High Value Manufacturing Catapult has announced their new CEO who will replace Dick Elsy who retires later this year.
We will be back next Friday with more news from, for and about the manufacturing technology industry - don’t forget, if you have any specific issues that you would like some help or guidance with, please let us know and we will seek out the answer for you and colleagues in the industry who may well be having the same issues. Until next week, have a good weekend and stay safe.