West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA), which oversees large infrastructure projects in the region, is set to discuss a report into the effects of Brexit on the region at its annual meeting next week.
It claimed that exports of goods from the region increased by 7.8 per cent to £18.1bn in 2018 – three times the 2.6 per cent increase seen nationally, “with only the East Midlands seeing a similar growth rate over the year”.
The region also exports more goods to the EU than the UK average, with Europe accounting for 60 per cent of exports from the region in 2018 compared to 50 per cent nationally.
But the report warned that the boost could be short-lived, adding that much of the business activity is driven by companies stockpiling goods in case of complications brought by Brexit.
It added: “Some Brexit-related issues appear to have given a short-term boost to national and local economies of late, with stockpiling helping to drive business activity, particularly in the manufacturing sector.
“There are however signs that the stockpiling-driven momentum may be tailing off now that the UK’s departure from the EU is less imminent than had appeared in late Q1 [March].
“More broadly, businesses appear to be increasingly looking to focus on domestic markets to improve their Brexit resilience, with some evidence that many are seeking more UK-based customers and suppliers.
“This may be prudent in the short-term and offers potential reshoring opportunities, but this should be balanced against a need to build on the region’s recent strong export performance, and the potential for businesses to explore opportunities in new markets.”
The report added that the number of Leeds City Region residents in work increased by 3,200 towards the end of 2018, and the region had the lowest number of 16-24-year-olds out of work.
It added: “Whilst the recent trend towards growth in full-time permanent employment is undoubtedly positive, it is also clear that there has been a persistent lull in capital investment. Given the critical role that investment plays in productivity growth, this could have longer term implications for economic competitiveness.”