The biggest independent survey of business confidence in the North East has shown a dramatic fall in exporting to the lowest level for a decade.
North East England Chamber of Commerce’s Quarterly Economic Survey represents views of its 3,000 members on trading conditions and forecasts for the future.
For Quarter 3 Lesley Moody, Chamber President said: “One big story emerges from this quarter’s results, namely the deterioration in firms’ export performance. For a region that prides itself on its export performance, this is deeply troubling.
“Clearly the uncertainty around Brexit is having an impact on our businesses and our economy. This quarter sees scores for export orders over the next three months fall to their lowest level since the middle of 2009; while cashflow continues to be a major challenge for many firms.
“With the October 31 Brexit deadline looming, these results only serve to underline the need for a Brexit outcome which preserves our trading relationship with our biggest single overseas market and which brings such a damaging period of uncertainty to an end.”
The overall trend for this quarter shows little change from the previous three months. However this masks some underlying trends.
Export sales have fallen back into negative territory; indicating a contraction in the market, led this quarter by a significant decline in the service sector. Looking ahead, it is the manufacturing sector which provides the biggest cause for concern, with export orders and cash flow showing negative indicators.
Concerns surrounding Brexit continued to be the most widely mentioned barrier to business success. Survey respondents highlighted uncertainties resulting in reduced business confidence and concerns surrounding future economic conditions, uncertainties over tariffs and the potential impact on exports as well as Brexit related delays to investment.
The QES is produced in association with Durham University Business School.