According to a new report by Make UK and Santander manufacturing, the UK electronics sector experienced fast rapid growth in 2018.
Although it constitutes less than five per cent of the UK manufacturing sector, it made £19.4 billion in turnover and £8.4 billion in gross value. This growth shadows a long period of decline which started in the early 2000s, and in 2018 the electronics sector grew by 12.4 per cent.
However, Asia represents the fiercest risk to UK electronics. The report by Make UK and Santander warns that there is constant competition from overseas firms, particularly from China.
The sector also continues to import much more than it exports: the sector imports 50 per cent of supply and exports of 26 per cent of output, making it the most import-concentrated sector in UK manufacturing. In 2017, the electronics trade deficit stood at £22.6 billion.
Paul Brooks, Head of UK Manufacturing at Santander UK, said: “The UK electronics sector continues to punch above its weight and, with the fast growth in technology, is well placed to cement itself as a core manufacturing sector.
“Increased automation and new technologies are linked to the success, but the sector needs to remain focused on growth, being agile and developing cutting-edge products to drive increasingly powerful and smart digital technologies.
“Santander is committed to supporting UK electronics firms as they look to invest for growth and capitalise on export opportunities in markets such as Asia.”
Such ‘export opportunities’ UK electronics could look in to, come in the form of 5G and digital medicines as well as latent export demand from Asia and the Middle East. The UK aims to fully roll out 5G by the end of 2020, a 33 times improvement of current internet speeds.
Currently Asia now accounts for 20 per cent of UK electronics exports, up from 14 per cent of 2007, and the top 10 high-growth export markets are all located in the region.