The Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA), the trade body representing the UK’s engineering-based manufacturing technology suppliers, has pledged its commitment to continue working with Europe’s manufacturers – and called on politicians in the UK to back this important industry.
The manufacturing industry remains a significant contributor to UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It directly accounts for 9% of GDP and supports more than 2.5 million jobs. In the wider context, factoring in the spending power of the people employed directly and indirectly (those in supply chains) in manufacturing, the figure rises to 23% and 7 million jobs (Figures from MTA Report avaliable at https://www.mta.org.uk/system/files/resource/downloads/20180405%20MTA%20report%20-%20final%20v2.pdf).
The MTA is a long-time advocate of maintaining close ties with European manufacturers – both before Brexit and afterwards. As the UK’s representative with CECIMO, the European Association of the Machine Tool Industries and related Manufacturing Technologies, the MTA said the longstanding relationship between UK and EU manufacturers, some the result of decades of successful collaboration, needed to continue.
In a letter to the heads of CECIMO, MTA CEO James Selka DL said the MTA, and more importantly its members, wanted to continue trading with partners in the EU and strengthen the mutually valuable long-standing relationships that had been forged over generations.
Prior to the EU referendum in 2016, the MTA consulted its members on their preferred outcome and the response to the consultation was the biggest the association had received for any survey. The outcome gave a clear indication of the strength of feeling amongst UK manufacturers to a future outside the single market.
Of those responding to the survey, 89 per cent said the best interests of their company lay in remaining part of the EU.
“That the majority of the MTA’s membership should strongly favour the UK remaining within the European Union is perhaps not surprising,” said Mr Selka. “The sector is remarkably internationalised with over 80 per cent of the output of the UK manufacturing technology sector exported, with countries of the EU by far the largest single market (around 45%).”
He said that in addition, many MTA companies were multinationals, including companies from outside the EU - in particular, the United States and Japan – many of which, have established a European headquarters in the UK. This has created a multiplier effect, stepping up economic activity, and driving employment growth in a diverse range of business functions such as Design, Development, Research, Applications Engineering, Service, Marketing, Management and Finance – and not just a UK sales team.
“Whilst the (Brexit) agreement set out by the EU and UK Government means that we will need to adjust to a new way of working, and that this is likely to take time to settle down and become normalised, we remain totally committed to continuing business with our closest neighbours in Europe,” said Mr Selka.
The MTA has sent its letter to its counterparts in Europe to assure them that the UK remains very much open for business.
The reaction has been swift, with strong support from CECIMO to the MTA’s pledge. In a reciprocating letter to Mr Selka, signed by CECIMO President Hans-Martin Schneeberger, and Director General, Filip Geerts, the trade body said it was grateful to the MTA for being the voice of the manufacturing technologies industry in the UK.
The letter states: “(We) would like to thank you and MTA for your commitment over the past years and for being a leading voice of our industry in the UK. We are very pleased that you share our vision of maintaining strong economic relations between European and British MT industries given the strong trade ties that bind the two.
“CECIMO strongly believes that keeping the EU-UK future economic relationship is in all our businesses’ best interest and is of utmost importance for the manufacturing sector. Therefore, you can count on the continuous support of CECIMO and its national associations.
“We look forward to continuing the excellent cooperation.”
Mr Selka said: “We have always felt privileged to be a part of the CECIMO family and wanted to assure all our friends that we are just as committed to contributing to our industries’ success as ever.
“It is heartening to see the strength of feeling within the EU for maintaining close working ties with the UK. Long may it continue, and I thank CECIMO for its kind words.
“But kind words alone are not enough to see manufacturers through these challenges times. We are still keen to do business with Europe and there needs to be a commitment from both sides that the working relationships built up over decades can continue as they have, and trade is allowed to carry on unfettered.
“We also need to see our politicians taking the lead and to pledge support to the UK’s manufacturing sector so it continues to be an industrial powerhouse, adding true value to the greater UK economy.”