Brexit, China, £ sterling, all discussed
At the 2018 Farnborough Air Show, the MAA was privileged to have Bank of England Governor Mark Carney come to meet members on our stand. As Governor, Carney has been instrumental in keeping the UK economy in the air through the turbulence of Brexit negotiations and a fluctuating British pound.
He was here to get a first-hand understanding of the challenges faced by our members in the current economic climate. Carney fielded questions from a group of our 22 exhibiting members. He also spoke with the MAA’s Supply Chain Technology Director, Bridget Day.
Brexit was a topic of prime concern for our exhibiting members. Meeting participants told Carney that the unpredictable Brexit negotiations had generated a lot of uncertainty, making it difficult for them to plan a long-term business strategy. On the plus side, reduced strength of the British pound made UK products more attractive to foreign buyers and our members were benefiting from increased exports. This was feeding back into the British economy, creating more jobs and leading to increased employment. A survey recently carried out by the MAA found that the aerospace sector had one of the highest growth trends globally. The UK will benefit from this as mainland Europe, along with fast growing economies such as China, experience greater demand for aerospace components and look to the UK to provide a high quality manufacturing service. Carney discussed various forecasting options, including a Brexit whitepaper to assess the implications of Britain leaving the EU for business.
Another area where our members wanted the Governor of the Bank of England’s advice was whether they should invest in China. Over the past few years, inward investment into China has been discouraged as UK investment prospects have traditionally been a mixed bag. MAA member Sigma Components wanted Mark Carney’s advice on whether it was worth continuing to invest in their Chinese factories. The Governor told Sigma that investing in China was “many flavoured” and that while some investments in China had failed to produce a reward, this in no way precluded good ROI for Sigma, provided they had a sound business strategy. As the MAA’s Bridget Day explained:
“Sigma wanted to know that their investments in China would be secure.”
In general, our members were content with the Governor’s economic strategy. MAA Director Peter Bruch made a point of thanking Carney for keeping interest rates low. The low interest rates allowed his company, AE Aerospace, to commit to crucial R&D in potentially game changing manufacturing approaches such as Industry 4.0 and the Glass Factory.
For the MAA and exhibiting members, Mark Carney’s visit was an invaluable opportunity to get a direct perspective on the current economic climate and communicate the challenges faced by SMEs in the West Midlands aerospace sector. Mr. Bruch said:
“It was very good that Mark Carney was able to spend time on the Midlands Aerospace Alliance stand as well as showing interest in the Farnborough Air Show itself.”
Bridget Day commented:
“Mark Carney was able to reassure our members that the currency fluctuations would eventually die down, and we were able to give him valuable insights into the SME aerospace sector and our Midlands supply chain.”
It was a great pleasure for the MAA to be able to host Mark Carney on its stand and exhibiting members were provided with an excellent opportunity to have a fruitful exchange with the Governor, which he can now take notice of.