Commenting on the GDP data published today, Zach Witton, Deputy Chief Economist at EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said:
“While the UK economy continues to grow at a steady pace, largely driven by the consumer, the risks are mounting as global headwinds increase with little prospect of the UK’s trade performance improving anytime soon. The challenge for policymakers will be to ensure the right conditions for growth are established as far as possible and business is not hampered with additional costs that will make a challenging environment even more difficult.
“Manufacturing ended the year on a flat note, rounding off a disappointing year for the sector. However, the picture remains very much a sectoral story with those sectors exposed to oil and gas struggling, while those consumer facing such as automotive are faring much better on the back of a healthy labour market and strong wage growth.
“While we expect the sector to grow this year the risks are mounting. Along with the oil price remaining low, slower growth in emerging markets, especially China is likely to hamper export prospects.”