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    The UK remains a great manufacturing nation and, notwithstanding some unknown risks in the Eurozone,

    I see British manufacturers and engineering businesses managing themselves well. I see them grappling with and penetrating export markets. I see them committing to innovate and, in the medium to long term, I am optimistic for the future.

    The trend for businesses to offshore manufacturing work to cheaper markets is changing. Six months ago, I would have said it was a trickle. However, our latest survey shows that one in seven of companies surveyed were looking to bring work back from emerging economies to the UK.

    The reasons behind this are interesting. A lot of it is down to quality. There’s also the increased cost of transporting goods to European markets from the other side of the world and, of course, increased labour inflation in much of the Far East.


    It’s a great boost for British manufacturing. We need to ensure that when manufacturing comes out of these areas, it comes back to the UK and not to competitor nations. To ensure that, we need commitment from government in terms of a consistent growth strategy. We’d like to see the kind of emphasis we’ve witnessed the government place on managing the fiscal deficit.


    In particular, there are a number of measures that would encourage British manufacturing businesses to invest. Ongoing support for a reduction in Corporation Tax and enhanced capital allowances aimed at smaller and medium-sized businesses would be a key driver in encouraging British businesses to invest in plant and equipment, along with further support to ease the flow of credit. If the Chancellor delivers on his promise that the UK will be the most competitive nation in the G20 in terms of its tax environment, it would be a huge boost for UK manufacturing.


    I’m certainly very supportive of the government’s export-led agenda and I think British businesses are stepping up to the mark. Many of our member companies who have used UKTI and its global network have been very positive. Personally, I do feel it could penetrate the industrial sector more deeply. I like the language of the government, but we need to see a move away from the traditional diplomacy style of ambassadors and trade missions towards a more commercially focused drive to develop British businesses around the world.


    It’s worth emphasising that we have many globally successful manufacturing companies. We need to ensure they remain competitive. Having a competitive currency is a boost for exports, but we also need to look at other factors, such as having a consistent energy policy to ensure that British businesses aren’t adversely affected by higher prices than our competitors that will reduce their competitiveness.


    We also have to recognise that the UK does have a skills gap. It’s difficult to put a specific number on that, but we need more engineers, more apprentices, particularly higher-level apprentices, and generally more output from schools. Both businesses and government need to promote the industry to teachers and career masters. We need to influence government to adapt the curriculum to support this STEM-related activity.


    The green agenda

    The whole Green agenda offers significant opportunities for the UK’s industrial sector. There’s a substantial market out there in Green technology, in replacement energy sources, low carbon vehicles and waste management. We don’t want to import that technology to secure the market. We want it Made in Britain.

    Image has been a huge problem for the industry, but hopefully we’re seeing that misrepresentation fall away. Summer 2012 is a great opportunity for us to get that message across both in the UK and globally. We’re expecting an estimated six million visitors to the UK this summer for the Jubilee celebration and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It’s a tremendous opportunity to showcase British products and British technology. We are bound to see a rise in ‘Brand Britain’ – and that can only be a benefit.

9/28/2020 11:39:55 PM