North East firms experienced a positive start to Export Week, with manufacturers reporting the best set of overseas sales and orders figures ever recorded by the region’s largest business survey.
Business optimism across the North East continues to rise as firms delivered another boost for the regional economy at the start of 2014, reporting an upsurge in trade with foreign markets.
The North East Chamber of Commerce’s Quarterly Economic Survey, produced in partnership with Barclays, reveals that orders, sales and exports have risen to unprecedented levels for the QES and that firms remain focused on recruitment and capital investment.
Having charted slow but steady growth across most indicators throughout 2013, the last quarter returned the best set of results since 2003, and although these high levels could not be matched in the first quarter of 2014, figures released demonstrate confidence levels remain high.
The QES is a trends survey that shows the health and direction of the North East economy. Measured across 11 indicators, any score above zero indicates trading conditions are improving.
The latest update shows confidence in the manufacturing sector, with all measures in positive territory. In particular, export sales and orders are looking good for the sector, boding well for further progress.
NECC policy and research Manager, Mark Stephenson, said: “It is always good to start the year on a positive note and these export figures are particularly good news at the start of Export Week. To achieve the best ever figures for export sales and orders for manufacturing companies is a real cause for celebration.
“2013 provided the foundations for economic growth and the last two quarters prove that business remains at the forefront of the recovery.
“Taken against last year’s figures, expectations are markedly stronger. Future workforce intentions are a real stand-out and have grown on the last quarter. Businesses are looking to hire and the region is very much open for business. The dip in some of the key indicators compared to the previous quarter was perhaps to be expected owing to the particularly strong feedback that was received last time.
“Placing these into the context of the annual comparison illustrates that underlying growth is still very strong and that, looking back 12 months, North East businesses have come a long way.”