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Volume 404: debated on Thursday 1 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on manufacturing industry in Wales. [109965]

The Government recognise that manufacturing in the UK, including Wales, has had a tough time and is still enduring the effects of the general global economic slowdown.Manufacturing represents 30 per cent. of GDP in Wales and still has a fundamental role as a generator in the Welsh economy. While some traditional manufacturers are moving to Asia and the Far East, many new jobs are being created in Wales in hi-tech sectors.The Chancellor's recent Budget announced a number of measures to support manufacturing which will help companies in making the transition from high volume/low worth to low volume/high worth production. These include a further ex tension of volume based Research and Development tax credit to all companies, the continuing process of establishing regional centres of manufacturing excellence, and an independent review aimed at ensuring a strong supply of highly skilled scientists and engineers.In the past, when the world economy did badly, Wales did much worse—always first into the recession and last back out. Today, with the global economy again contracting, Wales is doing far better.