We opened the week with a discussion of our Trade Barometer results (see below under Manufacturing sector news) and how these relate to international business development, before talking through Santander’s five-pillar model of the end-to-end customer journey. This is the model we use to support businesses as they build their international sales, drawing on our ecosystem of partners.
We believe life sciences will become even more important to the UK economy in the years ahead. It already accounts for £74bn of economic value, with more than 5,000 businesses employing 240,000 people. The future for the sector is bright.
The Association of British HealthTech Industries (ABHI) also supported Life Sciences Week, with additional insight on the medTech and healthTech sub-sectors. As the ABHI pointed out, while some parts of the industry are suffering due to Covid-19, others are seeing sales grow very quickly – manufacturers of personal protective equipment are just one example.
Those taking part in the webinars also heard from Intralink, one of our key market entry patterns, which gave an overview of the expanding life sciences sector in China and opportunities there for UK companies. Life Sciences Week included additional sessions on South Korea and Japan. We also booked in 14 one-to-one meetings ahead of the initiative.
Elsewhere, Santander’s sponsorship of the prestigious Department for International Trade Oncology Trade Mission to China won plaudits in the influential Healthcare UK Annual Review 2019-20 published by the Government. We continue to work on business development opportunities with companies we met on the trip.
Manufacturing sector news
The 2020 Santander Trade Barometer, published on 8 October, is the latest instalment of our regular landmark survey of business sentiment and their views about international trade. This edition of the report suggests many businesses remain surprisingly optimistic about future growth, with 59% confident they will grow over he next three years, down only marginally from the 62% who said the same thing in the spring survey. Among manufacturers, however, this figure falls to 54%.
The report also charts a deterioration in performance, with just 32% of all businesses reporting an in improvement in performance (compared to 46% in the spring), falling to 22% among manufacturers. And worryingly for the sector, where productivity improvements are badly needed in this challenging environment, business investment remains depressed; just 39% of businesses intend to invest in product development over the next 12 months, while only 36% expect to take on new staff.
It isn’t only the Covid-19 pandemic that presents difficulties for businesses, with the ongoing uncertainties of Brexit also representing a challenge. However, the Trade Barometer suggests businesses do not intend to back away from exports – 26% say international markets are now more important to them in the wake of Covid-19, against only 5% who say less.
This will require businesses to address obstacles to international growth, with the Trade Barometer highlighting areas including regulatory change post-Brexit, bureaucracy and the difficulty of finding trustworthy partners and connections. Then there are pandemic-related problems. Some 48% of manufacturers cite supply chain disruption from Covid-19, 44% point to falling demand, and 40% are concerned about the loss of opportunities for face-to-face meetings in overseas markets, or to attend events such as exhibitions and conferences.
To discuss how Santander can help your business during the Covid-19 pandemic, please contact email@example.com