28 November 1997

Tackle exports surge up

DOMESTIC machinery sales may be down but trade figures for the UK Agricultural and Outdoor Power Engineering industries reveal some encouraging results.

According to the Agricultural Engineers Association, exports for the first half of 1997 were up by 14.8%, imports were down by 4.6% with the balance of trade some 63.5% higher than for the same period last year.

To put some figures on it, exports were valued at £858.7m and imports at £511.2m – to produce the £347.5 balance.

AEA economist, Chris Evans points out that the driving force behind these results lies with the tractor sector which increased by almost 26% in the period.

"Buoyant world markets and relocation of production from Europe to the UK have been the main two reasons," he explains.

"This performance is noteworthy at a time when currency has appreciated strongly. But we must recognise that trading conditions have weakened and in view of lower price competitiveness arising from a strong £, it cannot be expected that such improvements will continue."