February saw the Brexit phoney war finally come to an end as the Prime Minister set a date for a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. Business opinion is set to play a role in a decision in which economic factors are central.
In order to be able to express a view on this vitally important issue the MTA consulted members at the end of last year. The results were crystal clear - 89% of MTA members, when thinking about their companies, believed that it was in the UK’s interests to Remain in the EU.
That the MTA membership should so strongly favour the UK remaining within the European Union is perhaps not surprising. The sector is remarkably internationalised with over 80% of the output of the UK manufacturing technology sector exported, with countries of the EU by far the largest single market (c.45%). The ability to access that market cheaply and efficiently is essential to our continued competitiveness and Brexit puts that at risk.
In addition many MTA companies are multinationals, including companies from outside the EU, in particular the USA and Japan, who have established a European HQ in the UK. This provides a multiplier effect bringing with it economic activity, and consequent employment in a diverse range of business functions like Applications Engineering, Marketing, Management and Finance – not just a UK sales team. This is about more than market access, it is about the UK being a fully participatory member of the EU, able to influence the political and economic climate.
Manufacturing technology is a global market. As the largest economic bloc in the world, the EU is better placed to negotiate International Trade Agreements than the UK would be alone. This argument also applies to adoption of international standards where the MTA represents a UK voice in concert with our European partners.