The output of the UK manufacturing sector surged last year to £224billion, according to the Office for National Statistics. While the economy is generating only marginal growth, a new report released today by industry trade association Make UK shows goods production is booming. British-made vehicles, aircraft, foods and chemicals accounted for a quarter of GDP back in the Seventies. The move towards services has resulted in this share falling below ten percent. UK estimates that sticking to the Government's manufacturing target of 15 percent of GDP would add an additional £142bn to the UK economy - far more than any post-Brexit free trade agreement signed or in the works. The UK's strong performance has resulted in France becoming the world's largest manufacturer, according to the latest international figures.
In 2021, UK manufacturing output came to $272billion - behind Italy's $314billion but ahead of France's $262billion. This is the third year in the last two decades that the UK has been ranked above its neighbour across the Channel. In a worldwide context, China maintains its manufacturing hegemony with production worth $4.9trillion, followed by the US, Japan and Germany.
The trade body, which represents 20,000 manufacturers across the country, claims the sector now supports 2.6 million jobs. The average annual gross wage for these jobs is £36,488, compared to £33,402 across the whole economy, or £32,676 for the services sector. UK exports rose 19.5 percent to June, while imports rose by 11.7 percent. The annual trade value is now at a record-breaking level of just under the equivalent of £1.75trillion.
The car industry is the main reason behind the relatively strong 0.2 percent economic growth for the second quarter of the year. The total number of cars produced in the UK is on course to be 100,000 units higher than it was in 2022, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. However, the latest figures from the Department for Business and Trade show that cars are only the third most valuable export sector in the UK. Top of the list includes 'unspecified goods ', including 'non-monetary gold and other precious metals, parcel post, low-value trade, coins'as well as crucially defence equipment. The UK exported £43.7billion worth of these items in the 12 months to June, followed by £32.2billion of mechanical power generators and £28.8billion in cars. For the UK to bring the UK more in line with other countries' versions of an 'industrial strategy', Make UK has renewed its call on the Government for a long-term plan to turn manufacturing's 15 percent-of-GDP ambition into reality, in the hopes of one day edging past Italy to seventh place globally.