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The manufacturing renaissance: new study reveals growth and opportunity in international trade

Rewatch our webinar: Untangling the red tape of international trade

Following a year of unprecedented change and upheaval for businesses across the globe, new research from leading law firm, Walker Morris, has revealed the shared opportunities and challenges for bilateral trade facing US and UK manufacturing businesses.

As traditional industrial areas, the US Midwest and the UK’s Northern Powerhouse have long had much in common, with factories that power the economy, employment, and exports. Today, they are hotbeds for the industries of tomorrow, including renewable energy, electric vehicles, bioscience, nanotechnology, and advanced manufacturing.

Despite significant challenges posed by the pandemic and unprecedented disruption from global competition, Walker Morris’ in-depth study of 200 manufacturers highlights their optimism and ambition. One in three (34 per cent) are targeting a merger or acquisition to drive growth and more than half (52 per cent) are pursuing international expansion.

However, the study also called attention to manufacturers’ need for expert advice – 87 per cent cited concern in understanding or working within foreign legal systems adding that barriers to trade, local content requirements and voluntary export restraints were also major obstacles to their international expansion plans.

Yet all respondents said that they see an opportunity for increased bilateral trade via access to more advanced production facilities, R&D centres, and as a gateway to neighbouring markets.

Speaking on the findings, Andrew Northage, Head of International Trade at Walker Morris said:

“We know that American and British manufacturers are tackling a common set of commercial challenges in the face of global transformation, and the sector has encountered a wide range of obstacles for decades.”

“Stiff global competition has seen American manufacturing account for the lowest share of the GDP since 1937, while in England, Brexit has caused a series of problems culminating in the lowest number of manufacturing exports to the EU since 1997. Yet our research has highlighted a growing sense of optimism, a chance to learn from shared experiences and significant opportunities for increased bilateral trade.”

On the regulatory concerns highlighted by respondents, Andrew added:

While regulatory challenges vary from sector to sector, there is one recurring question we receive from clients – how can I do this?

“The answer is to get the right advice early on to identify where your organisation’s responsibilities and liabilities sit, and to ensure you have time to overcome any regulatory hurdles. The international regulatory landscape may seem daunting, but a good advisory team will identify the key legal and regulatory liabilities at each stage of the supply chain.”

Walker Morris’ expert International Trade Group helps businesses find a way through the complexities of export and import, tariffs, customs, sanctions, associated regulations and related financing.

Join the Walker Morris International Trade Team for our webinar on ‘How do you make a resilient supply chain?’ on 16 November. We will be exploring what happens when issues arise in your supply chain, and how you can prevent them. Find out more here.

To read the full report, Made for Trade, please click here.

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