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Brexit, trade and UK advanced manufacturing sectors: a Midlands’ perspective

In this working paper, we examine how Brexit has impacted on Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers in the UK Midlands, and to what extent such firms are reconfiguring their supply chains with the increase in trade barriers with Brexit.

To do this, the paper aims to add to macro studies in the area by using a mixed-methods approach that combines descriptive quantitative analysis of secondary data with a complementary qualitative research analysis based on a novel interview dataset. The latter is generated from 14 semi-structured interviews conducted in late 2021 with senior managers and directors in advanced manufacturing firms across the East and West Midlands regions of the UK.

A key finding is that the imposition of new non-tariff barriers through Brexit has proved particularly challenging to smaller firms in manufacturing supply chains. The findings of our research highlight the need for policy support for smaller firms engaging in EU-wide supply chains, particularly around skillsets and access to talent, cost reduction for exports and facilitating trade.

A summary of the paper can be found on the UK in a Changing Europe commentary page here.

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