Sheerin shifts focus of debate
Brexit chaos ‘may be here to stay’ warns industry leader
Paul Sheerin: from shambolic to chaotic (pic: Terry Murden)
Scottish Engineering chief executive Paul Sheerin says the Brexit progress has turned from shambolic to chaotic, a situation he says “might be here to stay for a while”.
Writing in the organisation’s latest quarterly report, he says it may be better to focus attention on the productivity issue.
“Of particular note and in line with many of our industry body colleagues, optimism has reduced significantly since last quarter, scraping to a one point positive rating,” he says.
“While we can now record seven consecutive quarters of positive optimism, we should recognise that it has been maintained only by the slimmest of margins.
“To be fair, it is still positive, but the fall does objectively reflect the mood of conversations held with member companies in the last quarter.”
Commenting on the Brexit talks, he says: “Three months ago, I described the Brexit progress as shambolic, today I feel that a better description is chaotic, and given that we are more than two years down this road, with a total absence of clarity or meaningful progress, maybe it’s time to consider that this chaos might be here to stay for a while.
“Larger organisations than ours have railed against the impact that a ‘hard’ or ‘no deal’ Brexit may bring, seemingly to no avail, so perhaps it’s time to channel our energies into a positive direction once again.
“The much discussed productivity puzzle is a complex challenge, but effort understanding the relevant factors for each business will aid competitiveness, and therefore makes it a topic actually worth discussing.”
The report notes that order intake in general remains positive for the seventh consecutive quarter although declining to just above balance point.
Similarly with output volume, the level of positivity has dropped. Export levels have also fallen significantly. UK orders have dipped into negative territory after seven consecutive positive quarters.
Staffing levels have improved again in the seventh consecutive positive quarter. Both training and capital investment plans have improved with training at a level not seen for almost 4 years.
Bank of Scotland’s Business Barometer says confidence in Scotland remained unchanged during August.
Companies reported lower confidence in their own business prospects but were more optimistic about the economy.
Fraser Sime, regional director for Scotland at Bank of Scotland, said: “To see overall confidence holding firm demonstrates the continued resilience of Scottish businesses during uncertain times.