26 May, 2024

Keeping a steady hand on the tiller

15 February, 2017

One thing’s for sure, 2017 certainly flew out of the traps politically, with a new US Government speedily following through on many of its pledges made during the presidential campaign of 2015/16. It seems like never a day goes by without some new executive order being unleashed with the by now well-practiced flourish of President Trump’s nib. At this stage of the proceedings, it may be difficult to predict the true effects and outcomes related to many of these actions and changes in policy; diplomatically, militarily and economically, but on thing’s for sure; the new White House incumbents certainly hit the ground running in earnest.

One of the latest moves by the Trump administration before going to press with this edition of Hydraulics & Pneumatics was the news that it is now looking to scale-back US financial services regulations by reviewing the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial regulations that were introduced following the 2008-09 financial crisis with the aim of averting further financial freefalls. The developments and possible resultant ramifications of this move will be interesting to monitor, seeing as this could have a major effect – good or bad – for the economy and industry in general; including, of course, the various industrial niches that readers of, and contributors to, this journal interact with and supply to.

Continuing the political theme, closer to home the British House of Commons received a large majority vote to invoke Article 50, allowing the UK to leave the European Union (EU) – the main task of MPs now being to come to an agreement over a Brexit timetable. Despite all the uneasiness that was almost palpable in the air following the Referendum outcome last year, it would appear that UK firms are now largely knuckling down to the tasks at hand – determined to make Brexit work for them and the UK in general. For example, manufacturer optimism in the UK has risen to its highest pace for two years. According to the latest quarterly CBI Industrial Trends Survey, UK manufacturers are now more optimistic about their business situation and exporting prospects, while reporting strong growth in domestic orders over the previous quarter.

Similarly, the results of a British Chambers of Commerce’s (BCC) International Trade Survey indicate that UK companies remain committed to strong trading relationships with European customers and suppliers despite the UK’s vote to leave the EU. With regard to future trade arrangements with Europe, UK companies surveyed consider the issues of tariffs; non-tariff barriers; and product standards, certification and compliance as the three top priorities for resolution in talks on a Brexit deal (For more details of the CBI and BCC surveys, see page 4 of this edition).

Similarly, the EEF reports that manufacturing activity maintained strong momentum into the new year, with the January manufacturing PMI registering at a positive 55.9 – the sixth successive month of expansion since the post-Referendum result slowdown. The EEF adds that the export market also shows strong demand from overseas; particularly in the Eurozone, where the PMI rose to 55.2 in January (a 69-month high).

As well as to chewing the political and economic cud, our Annual Boardroom Report (from page 42 in this edition) surveys a wide panoply of current key discussion points within the fluid power and related technology arena. As well as reflecting on recent and ongoing technological developments within our industry, the contributors to the report also offer their views concerning possible, or even likely, further areas of enhancement or innovation to look forward to over the coming year or so. Looking ahead in a more all-embracing sense – in light of all the current impending and possible further changes taking place on the global stage, let’s trust that these will translate into even greater levels of opportunity and optimism as we navigate our way through 2017. Steady as she goes…

Ed Holden


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