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Future looking bright for valve, chemical and pharmaceutical industries

The future is looking bright for the valve industry, according to the latest industry analysis and forecasts. Demand is growing in the food and drinks, pharmaceuticals, chemical and power generation industries, and this need is expected to remain strong into the foreseeable future, a report by Reportlinker indicates.

Earlier reports had suggested that the control valve market will be worth more than $10 billion by 2020, and although Europe is expected to be among the areas performing well, the strongest growth is likely to be in the Asian-pacific markets, according to the Oil & Gas, Chemicals, Energy & Power, Water Management, Pharmaceuticals, Food & Beverages global forecasts.

Growing interest in Expos

The strong growth in the industry is reflected in the popularity of the expos that are held around the world in various venues. One of the most recent, the Valve World Expo in Dusseldorf, which was held in Mid-December 2016, attracted more than 12,000 trade visitors and over 700 exhibitors.

The organisers have noted that the event has gone from strength to strength over the years, and it now attracts visitors from more than 80 countries around the world. The next event is scheduled for Dusseldorf in 2018, and a U.S. show is due to be held in July 2017.

Chemical and pharmaceutical industry performing well

Other sectors that are currently performing well are the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors in the UK. There had been concerns about these industries following the Brexit vote, but they have remained resilient, with exports and sales volumes increasing, and the pharmaceutical industry in particular is giving manufacturing a boost.

The Chemical Industries Association predicted that despite the challenges facing the industry, such as a squeeze on price margins, companies in this sector are still expecting to invest in research and development, and it is likely there will be ‘strong growth’ in capital expenditure.

Commenting on the more immediate future, Chief Executive of Chemical Industries Association, Steve Elliot, said:

“Our sector continues to face challenges, including the uncertainty of Brexit, but chemical and pharmaceutical businesses are focussed on meeting customer needs and seizing opportunities all over the world and this latest survey suggests we are in good shape for the year ahead”. 

However, despite the positive signs, Elliot is calling for the Chancellor Philip Hammond to use the spring budget as an opportunity to give a ‘confidence boost’ to manufacturing and to introduce reforms that will ‘further strengthen the backbone of UK industry’.

Concern’s over UK’s nuclear energy industry as UK announces it’s to leave Euratom

There are concerns over the future of the UK’s nuclear energy industry after the government announced its plans to leave the European Atomic Power Treaty, or Euratom, as part of Brexit. The UK will formally leave in 2019, and this could mean that some of Britain’s nuclear power stations could face closure if alternatives safeguards aren’t put in place.

The warning comes from Rupert Cowen of Prospect Law, who was appearing before the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee along with other key representatives from the nuclear industry.

The UK will be on course to leave Euratom when it signs article 50 in March. Cowen warned that this could cause significant problems for research and development. However, if it also leaves the UK unable to comply with international safeguards, then as explained in the Guardian, nuclear trade would need to be discontinued and nuclear power stations could face possible closure.

Decision to leave Euratom

Brexit Secretary David Davis first confirmed the UK would be leaving Euratom in announcement earlier in 2017. The decision shocked researchers and scientists, and it has left a question mark over the future of projects like the Joint European Torus (JET) project and the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor.

However, in a statement regarding the future of the JET project, Professor Donné, EUROfusion programme manager, has pledged the team will do all they can to continue working together and extend the work until at least 2020.

Professor Donné added:

“We also will do our best to find smooth and adequate solutions for the people that are affected by the UK withdrawing from Euratom.”

UK Government’s commitment to Nuclear Energy

Despite the UK’s decision to exit from Euratom, Secretary of State for International Trade, Dr Liam Fox, has been keen to voice the government’s commitment to nuclear energy. Speaking at the recent Civil Nuclear Showcase 2017, Dr Fox stated that the UK’s withdrawal from Euratom will in no way diminish the country’s nuclear ambitions.

Prime Minister Theresa May recently gave the go ahead for the Hinkley C power plant, which is being built in collaboration with China, and there are plans for more nuclear power plants in the UK.

By the mid-2020s there will be up to 16 gigawatts of new nuclear energy coming online, according to Nuclear AMRC. Companies currently exploring nuclear energy in the UK include Areva and Hitachi GE. 

Government urged to do more to improve manufacturing productivity

Manufacturing has continued to perform well in the face of uncertainty following the Brexit vote, exports are on the increase and economic growth in general is picking up. However, the EEF has taken the opportunity ahead of the spring budget to urge Chancellor Philip Hammond to do more to aid productivity in the manufacturing sector.

Ms Lee Hopley, Chief Economist for the EEF, said:

“This Budget must drive ahead with the productivity-focused commitments that we saw in both the Autumn statement and the government’s recent industrial strategy green paper. Action that enables more innovation, more investment and supports better skills and infrastructure in the economy are not optional if the UK is to be ready to make the most of post-Brexit opportunities.

The EEF is also calling on the government to encourage innovation by improving the current research and development tax credit scheme. Other reforms the EEF are keen to see include further investment into digital infrastructure, and improved training. Similar calls have been made from business organisations like the CBI, who feel that more should be done to improve technical training and apprenticeships in the UK.

Government efforts to improve business productivity

The chancellor’s autumn budget had already allocated significant funding for productivity, with the announcement of a $23 billion National Investment Productivity Fund; the fund aims to improve infrastructure, research and development and assist in the building of faster internet connections.

The government has also announced an industrial strategy. The strategy, which was recently outlined in a green paper, has increasing economic growth and making companies more productive at its core. However, it has come under criticism from various quarters for lacking details and targets.

Lack of productivity in manufacturing

Throughout the past year there has been several reports regarding the fall in productivity in the manufacturing sector. Some of this has been attributed to poor internet connectivity among some manufacturers, while the EEF has highlighted how productivity in some industries has come under strain due to the reduction in crude oil prices. In addition, the financial crisis took its toll on manufacturing productivity, which had previously been gaining strength.

There has been calls for government action to improve productivity, some of which were addressed by the announcement of the industrial strategy. However, the government is still be urged to adopt policies that will further encourage innovation and investment into new technology to boost productivity among the manufacturing sector.

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