West Midlands leads post-pandemic manufacturing recovery as exports surge

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The West Midlands is leading the post-pandemic manufacturing boom, according to new analysis from the Manufacturing Technology Centre, the organisation bringing world-leading manufacturing technologies from research to reality.

HMRC trade statistics show that manufacturing exports from the West Midlands rose 65% in Q2 2021 compared to the same period a year earlier, the biggest increase of all the UK regions. It was followed by the North West and East of England, which saw gains of 62% and 58% respectively. The national average was 32%.

The West Midlands exported manufactured goods, machinery and transport, and miscellaneous manufactures worth £5.4 billion, up from £3.2 billion in the previous year. However, the West Midlands manufacturing sector is yet to bounce back fully from the pandemic, operating at 82% of pre-pandemic exports. 

The pandemic has highlighted the UK’s reliance on global supply chains, and the need to reshore our manufacturing capabilities. The Manufacturing Technology Centre is calling on the Government to promote the reshoring of manufacturing - returning the production of goods back to the UK - by bringing development spending in line with research spending in the West Midlands, and across the UK. This move will enable the manufacturing sector to raise exports back to pre-pandemic levels, boost the economic recovery and become a manufacturing and scientific superpower once again. 

Clive Hickman, Chief Executive of the Manufacturing Technology Centre, said: “As we emerge from the pandemic, it is excellent to see that the West Midlands manufacturing sector is bouncing back. Given the world-class people, expertise and facilities, it is no surprise that the region has seen the biggest increase in manufacturing exports over the past year. 

“However, COVID-19 has illustrated the UK’s reliance on global supply chains. To protect our economy from shocks in the future, the Government must do everything in its power to enable the reshoring of manufacturing. One vital step would be to bring Government development spending in line with research spending to boost economic growth and deliver manufacturing jobs.

“As the home of the industrial revolution, the West Midlands has the foundations to become a global manufacturing hub once again. At the Manufacturing Technology Centre, we are proud to play our part in delivering innovation, jobs and economic growth to the region.”

Mark Hilton, Operations Director at Albert Jagger, a vehicle hardware manufacturer, said: “We’re proud to see the West Midlands leading the national manufacturing recovery. As a Walsall-based business, we’re pleased to have been able to contribute to that success by exporting to over 70 countries.

“The global supply chain crisis has been a challenge for many companies, but Albert Jagger has protected itself by shifting the production of many products back to the UK from China. As a result, 2021 has been the most successful year in our company’s history.”

 

2019 Q2

2020 Q2

2021 Q2

Percentage change

 (2020-21)

Proportion of exports compared to pre-pandemic levels (2019-2021)

West Midlands

6,633

3,277

5,407

65% 

81.5%

North West

3,976

2,626

4,253

62%

107%

East

4,057

3,007

4,757

58%

117.2%

North East

2,352

1,240

1,943

56.6%

82.6%

South East

7,429

4,732

6,858

44.9%

92.3%

UK

53,522

35,148

46,552

32.5%

86%

Yorkshire & Humber

2,384

1,793

2,362

31.7%

99.1%

South West

4,551

3,175

4,157

30.9% 

91.3%

Wales

3,033

1,817

2,447

20.9%

80.7%

London

7,619

4,502

5,140

14.1%

67.5%

Northern Ireland

1,438

913

1,098

9.6%

76.4%

East Midlands

5,153

4,070

3,942

-3.1%

76.5%

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