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This is the seventh edition of our annual Executive Survey, where manufacturers' look at the growth opportunities and challenges that lie ahead, and our first in partnership with AIG. We take a look at companies' expectations for growth in their business, across the UK economy and globally, and their headline predictions are outlined below.

Our survey also provides an early warning of some of the issues that could knock these predictions - which are largely positive for 2018 - off track. Some standout developments for 2018 include the inevitable cornucopia of challenges that could come with the ramping up of Brexit negotiations.

But outside of domestic politics, as manufacturers have been investigating what the fourth industrial revolution means for their business, their heightened awareness of the risk of cyber-attacks is clearly evident this year.

We've seen the agility and responsiveness of UK manufacturers in the face of a host of economic developments in our surveys over the past six years and again we see companies putting in place defensive and offensive business strategies to make the best of whatever is in store in 2018.

Executive Survey 2018

Manufacturers left 2017 in an upbeat mood and are set to outpace the rest of the economy again this year as the growth in global trade continues to gain momentum. That is not to say everything in the 2018 garden is rosy, however, as there are plenty of rocks in the road that could puncture this picture.

Chief amongst these is Brexit which has put the investment outlook on a knife edge. As such, it is essential that the Government gets a transition deal as a matter of urgency and sets out with utmost clarity as to what kind of final deal it is looking for.

In tandem with this, it also needs to crack on a pace with its Industrial Strategy. This will be vital in providing manufacturers with the confidence to invest in strategies to improve their productivity and enter new markets.

Stephen Phipson, CBE Chief Executive, EEF

AIG is proud to sponsor this year's EEF Executive Survey. Manufacturing is key to the health of the UK's economy and its performance on the world stage.

This year's survey highlights a number of key issues for business, including supply chain and cyber.

As technology and data start to play increasingly critical roles in the industry, manufacturers will, inevitably, find themselves more vulnerable to cyber-attacks that can interrupt the supply chain. Some incidents, where systems are down for several weeks, cost billions in lost revenue.

Robust cyber security measures and thorough employee training on cyber security are vital to help protect against the increasing threat of attacks and ensure compliance with new regulations such as the European General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

Romaney O'Malley Head of Industrials Segment, AIG UK

Available resources

Industry report