Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Record year for inward investment

The government's trade and investment body - UK Trade and Investment - has revealed that 2007-8 was another highly successful year for Britain in attracting investment from overseas companies.

A record 1,573 investment projects were won in what marks a fifth consecutive year of growth.

According to the figures, 45,051 new jobs were created and a further 58,488 safeguarded as a result of this continuing success.

The results are in stark contrast to the scare-mongering some years ago by the government and pro-euro figures that investment would dry up if we didn't scrap the pound and hand over greater control of the economy to the EU.

Car industry success

During the euro debate, particular focus was placed on whether car manufacturers like Nissan, Honda and Toyota would maintain their operations in Britain if we didn't join the euro.

Not only have they stayed, but they have been increasing their investment in manufacturing operations here.

Back in May 2007, Nissan announced a £4.5m / 4,000 job investment in a new logistics centre at their factory in Sunderland - Europe's most productive car plant. More recently, 800 new jobs were created to support a third shift at the site.

Last year Toyota also announced an £88 million investment (pdf, page 4) to build a new petrol engine at its site in Deeside, North Wales, with production due to start in 2009.

And in March this year, Honda announced an £80 million investment in its manufacturing site in Swindon, where the company makes its Civic and CR-V models.

Vauxhall was another example being touted by the euro lobby of manufacturing at risk. But in 2007 the company announced that the new Astra model (pdf, page 4) would be built at their Ellesmere Port plant.

Since the euro membership debate died, big investments have also been made by German car giant BMW to build the new Mini in Oxford and the new Rolls Royce in Goodwood, and by Ford in their engine plants in Dagenham and Bridgend.

'Ringing endorsement'

Without a hint of self-consciousness about earlier claims, Business and Enterprise Secretary John Hutton said the results were "a ringing endorsement of the UK as an international investment destination, demonstrating that our compelling mix of a business friendly environment, political and economic stability, world-class talent, and a strong research and development base, is a powerful magnet for overseas companies."

Exactly all the points in Britain's favour that pro-pound groups were making, to argue that inward investment decisions depended far more on factors other than whether we joined the euro.

Lessons learnt?

It's obviously too much to expect for the government to have learnt lessons from such previous debates about the quality of their judgement in relation to the implications for Britain of refusing to hand further powers to the EU.

Having been utterly wrong about Britain's fate if we didn't join the euro, what big steps in EU power centralisation could they be similarly wrong about today?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The devaluation of the pound by 12% has made the UK an investment magnet. This adds to the UK's reputation as "buisness-friendly" and lightly regulated. This contrasts with France where even ou=r "successful" Airbus has had to transfer production to Mexico and other low cost bases because of the cripplingly high euro. In France the compulsory 35 hour week introduced by Martine Aubrey (Jacques Delors' daughter) has been overturned this week. Sarkozy is in a race of catch-up with the UK.....but woefully behind!