British manufacturing now eighth largest in the world

 
Jasper Jolly
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Cars are an important output for UK manufacturing (Source: Getty)

The UK’s manufacturing industry moved up a spot in the global league table to become the eighth largest in the world, according to the latest available data.

British manufacturing is now worth $249bn (£185bn) every year, according to United Nations data collected by the EEF, a manufacturers’ lobby group.

The UK leapfrogged France in the ranking, with only Germany and Italy manufacturing more in 2015 among European countries.

China remains the top manufacturer in the world, followed by the USA and Japan.

Read more: Britain's manufacturers ride the wave of a weaker pound

While the UK economy is dominated by services, which account for almost four-fifths of all output, the manufacturing sector punches above its weight in British trade terms, accounting for 44 per cent of exports.

Further expansion in the sector may be prompted by recent strength shown in surveys of industry, which have portrayed exports in particular benefiting from a devalued currency. Output has since picked up in the official figures, with July seeing the first "significant" rise in production since the start of the year, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Meanwhile, the sector accounts for 70 per cent of all business research and development, the EEF said.

Lee Hopley, EEF chief economist, said: “Manufacturing’s share of the economy remains stable at 10 per cent, but the sector makes a much larger contribution to vital exports and innovation.”

Read more: UK manufacturing hit a four-month high in August

The North West is the region with the highest manufacturing output, according to the ONS, followed by the South East and the East of England.

Some 2.6m people work in the sector across the UK.

Paul Brooks, head of manufacturing, Santander Corporate & Commercial, which also contributed to collecting the data, said: “With strong manufacturing figures reported from across the country, it is crucial that we continue to support manufacturers in all regions of the UK.”

“Despite uncertainty around Brexit, manufacturers are seizing opportunities to increase their now more competitive exports, with the sector accounting for 44 per cent of UK exports.”

Read more: British manufacturing records first "significant" production growth of 2017

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