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Exporters Continue to Drive Regional Growth


North East exporters and manufacturers continue to drive regional economic growth as the fight-back from recession continues.

North East exporters and manufacturers continue to drive regional economic growth as the fight-back from recession continues.

The North East Chamber of Commerce's flagship quarterly economic survey demonstrates that the region continues to perform well in overseas markets and that UK sales for manufacturers are still rising.

NECC's North East Business Barometer, produced in partnership with Barclays, is a trends survey that shows the health and direction of the North East economy measured across 11 separate indicators. Any score above zero indicates trading conditions are improving.

The Quarter 3 Business Barometer, published today, also demonstrates that the service sector continues to bear the brunt of a slowdown in economic growth across the region and UK.

Of the 11 indicators, seven showed growth compared to the same time last year, including sales and orders for domestic and export trade, as well as improvements in future profitability and turnover. The survey also demonstrated prices on the rise with positive results for current workforce recruitment and positivity on future employment opportunities.

However, the year on year positivity has been tempered somewhat by a slowdown in growth that has seen all but one of the indicators (future turnover) drop below the regional economic performance of last quarter.

John Mowbray, NECC President, said:

"The Government's decision to retain the UK Trade and Investment team in the North East may prove pivotal for sustaining growth as manufacturing continues to provide the foundation for regional economic positivity.

"While focus must be placed on broadening our export base, we must also examine ways of improving UK demand. This places a significant onus on the public sector, which is a big part of the customer base in the North East, to create opportunities for regional suppliers.

"The positive results on current and future workforce is also heartening, particularly with regional unemployment rising in recent months. With private sector growth probably still too small to offset public sector cuts the Government must tackle head-on barriers to employment and training. It must also consider a much more radical VAT rebate for businesses providing new employment opportunities for young people."

Brian Thorpe, Head of North East, Barclays Corporate:

"There is particularly good news concerning high value manufacturing, especially where it is export-led.

"While sterling is forecast to appreciate in the medium term, we don't expect this imminently, and interest rates are not likely to rise until late 2012. The export window therefore remains wide open for UK companies and many in the North East are reaping the rewards."

Below is a summary of the NEBB indicators. The balances column is highlighted in green where the indicator is in growth and red to denote contraction: