Presenting a report to Prime Minister David Cameron, Sir Anthony Bamford, chairman of JCB, called for new measures to be taken to ensure UK manufacturing doesn’t fall behind international competition.
The report urged Government to do more to incentivise capital investment and increase the prerogatives of the Export Credits Guarantee Department.
“The report goes behind the headlines to show how wide the economic gap has become between the UK and other nations,” Sir Anthony said, adding that taxes, both personal and corporate, should be lowered.
He also said action should be taken in schools and universities to change the perception of manufacturing as “boring” and “repetitious”.
“Our manufacturing trade balance has been negative since the 1980s, which partly explains our dire balance of payments position,” he said.
He added that increased competition among banks would boost lending to small and medium sizes companies.
Comparing the UK to Germany (which enjoyed a manufacturing trade surplus of +9.7pc in 2010, compared to Britain’s -4.7pc), Sir Anthony commented: “Germany’s focus on value-added products sets it apart. It has a manufacturing strategy which the UK doesn’t.
“If our politicians fail to deliver a coherent long-term manufacturing strategy, and quickly, we will fall into an economic abyss from which we may never emerge.”