Britain’s Aerospace Sector Soars Amid Fears Brexit Could Clip Its Wings

30 June 2016

Britain’s aerospace and defence industries have each racked up another year of growth but their steady rises could be under threat from the UK’s looming EU exit.

New data annual from industry trade association ADS Group showed that turnover in the export-led aerospace industry rose by £1.9bn in 2015 to £31.1bn. The defence sector recorded a £200m rise in turnover to £23.8bn.

However, the outcome of the referendum could blow a hole in their performance, with the possibility of new tariffs making exports less attractive.

“The UK’s aerospace and defence industries are increasing their contribution to the UK economy and helping meet global demand,” said Paul Everitt, ADS chief executive. “We are keen to see the UK negotiate trade deals which maintain that trend once the country is outside the EU.”

He added that British companies were already lobbying the Government to provide “unfettered” access to the EU’s single market in the wake of the referendum.

Britain has the world’s second-largest aerospace industry, deriving almost 90pc of its turnover from exports. ADS data showed that the sector has grown 39pc over the past five years, with almost two-thirds of companies in the sector saying that expansion is driven by foreign sales.

Aerospace is also vastly outperforming the wider economy when it comes to efficiency, with productivity up by 30pc over the past five years, compared with the national average increase of 2pc over the same period.

Employee numbers also continued to rise in the highly paid sector - up 8,000 since 2010 to the current level of 128,300. The average salary is £41,400.

Exports from Britain’s defence sector represent £8.5bn of its total turnover, ahead of the £7.7bn average over the past five years, with demand strongest in the US, Middle East and Latin America.

However, the number of people working in the industry continued its steady decline, down to 142,000 in 2015, compared with 160,000 in 2010.


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