The Government’s Manufacturing Strategy has proved to be a valuable framework, successfully developing programmes such as the Manufacturing Advisory Service and National Skills Academy for Manufacturing, while targeting financial support in key areas such as science.
The UK is the sixth largest manufacturing country in the world. It represents 14 per cent. of GDP, accounts for more than half of our exports, three quarters of business R&D and directly supports 2.9 million jobs.
But rapid global and technological advances are changing the economic challenges for manufacturers in Britain. China and India already account for nearly 50 per cent. of world real GDP growth. Their importance as a driver for future growth is set to continue in 2008 and beyond.
The Government are committed to helping strengthen the future of our manufacturing sector by supporting companies to embrace new opportunities in increasingly competitive global markets. We will therefore renew our Manufacturing Strategy over the coming months to address that challenge. The renewed strategy will pay particular attention to opportunities for Britain to lead global markets created by the need to tackle climate change.
I am today announcing the formulation of a Ministerial Advisory Group to help renew the Manufacturing Strategy. This new group will be made up of a core membership of CBI, TUC, Engineering Employers Federation, Technology Strategy Board, and Regional Development Agency together with representatives from industry and trade unions. The group will report to my right hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Competitiveness and provide advice on key areas impacting on all aspects of manufacturing.
The Government will seek the views of manufacturers and other stakeholders across the UK in developing the strategy. A number of regional events will be undertaken as part of the process, which will be co-ordinated with regional Ministers and regional offices.
Full details of the Ministerial Advisory Group membership will be announced shortly. This group replaces the Manufacturing Forum, to whom I am extremely grateful for their work in steering the manufacturing strategy from 2004-07.