A worsening economy will force British manufacturers to look overseas for growth in 2012, according to a survey of senior executives.
Half of all business leaders expect the UK to deteriorate throughout the year, against just one in five anticipating any improvement, according to the EEF manufacturers' organisation.
The survey comes against a backdrop of a sliding manufacturing sector at home which threatens to tip the economy back into recession in the final quarter of 2011, months after the Chancellor, George Osborne, called for a new "march of the makers" at the time of the Budget.
According to the survey, two-thirds of executives have already adjusted plans to hunt out new global markets, while four in five expect export sales to be at least as strong or bigger this year. Chiefs see the greatest threat to growth as raw material shortages and a further escalation of Europe's sovereign debt crisis.
Lee Hopley, EEF chief economist, said: "The road ahead for manufacturing and the UK is uncertain, but most manufacturers continue to grasp the opportunities in untapped markets for services and in faster-growing emerging markets."
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