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Press Release
Chemical businesses across the UK have stressed the importance of an improving European Union economy to their UK manufacturing operations. In the latest Chemical Industries Association survey of member companies, total sales volumes and export volumes continue to gain. Looking ahead, expectations for export growth remain high. 50% of companies expect exports to increase over the next twelve months with only 6% expecting a decrease. A third of companies saw the expanding European economy as an opportunity over the next twelve months. The European Union is the sector’s biggest export market with 60% of exports going to the EU.

Further increases in both capital expenditure and R&D spending with employee numbers expected to rise at the fastest rate since early 2015. 41% of companies expect to increase capital expenditure over the next twelve months with only 9% expecting to lower spending. In addition, no company expects to reduce R&D spending in the next twelve months while 21% will increase R&D spending. Both are very good news for an investment- and innovation-intensive sector. New jobs in the chemical sector mean more well-paid jobs often in regions of the UK where employment is most needed. 

Chief Executive of the Association Steve Elliott said “In spite of the positive results, the survey also showed that trading uncertainty was already weighing down exports and potential increases in regulatory costs was a big concern for chemical businesses.  We therefore continue to urge the government to provide clarity over the future trading and regulatory relationship with the European Union to ensure frictionless tariff free trade, regulatory consistency and access to skilled people are essential to maintaining the growth of the chemical sector across the UK. A strong EU economic performance benefits the UK if we can get the relationship right after we leave. ”

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The CIA is the Chemical Industries Association. The Association has member companies located across the UK. Our members are chemical and pharmaceutical businesses. 

Our industry is one of the UK’s top manufacturing exporters.

The chemical and pharmaceutical industry adds £14.4 billion of value to the UK economy every year from total annual turnover of over £40 billion. This represents around 10% of the value added by the whole of UK manufacturing.

In addition to gross value added, the sector also contributes to the UK economy in its position at the head of many supply chains within manufacturing and its employment of a well remunerated, high-skilled workforce. Chemical manufacturing adds £9 billion in gross value added annually and pharmaceutical manufacturing £5 billion.

UK chemical and pharmaceutical companies invest around £4 billion in capital and R&D.

The wider chemical and pharmaceutical sector (manufacturing plus distribution) is the largest exporter of manufactured goods with annual exports of close to £50 billion. The export of motor vehicle, trailers and semi-trailers is the sector with next highest exports of £35 billion.

63% of companies in the sector export what they make to the world, the highest proportion of any goods manufacturing sector in the UK economy. 60% of our exports go to the European Union and 75% of our imports and raw materials come from the European Union. 


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