Manufacturing growth sees Britain ranked as eighth biggest industrial nation

The Bowles and Walker manufacturing factory in Watton. Picture: Ian Burt

The Bowles and Walker manufacturing factory in Watton. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Britain is now the eighth largest industrial nation, after manufacturing returned to growth last year, according to a new report.

The country has climbed one place in the world rankings over the past year, with annual manufacturing output worth more than £183bn, said the EEF.

The manufacturers' group said the largest individual sector is food and drink (16%) while the chemicals and pharmaceuticals and transport sectors both account for 14% of output each.

The North West remains the biggest regional powerhouse, producing more than £24bn output.

Manufacturing also helps power the engine of the West Midlands (£17.5bn) and East Midlands (£15.9bn), with their strength across the aerospace and automotive sectors, said the report.

Lee Hopley, chief economist at the EEF, said: 'With Government facing lots of major policy decisions on everything from our future trading relationship with Europe and the rest of the world to the detail of a long-term industrial strategy, it is vital that they have the right industry facts at their fingertips.

'Our latest annual fact card reveals that manufacturing's share of the economy remains stable at 10%, but the sector makes a much larger contribution to vital exports and innovation.'

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Paul Brooks of Santander Bank, which helped with the research, added: 'Manufacturing remains a key part of the UK economy and it is really encouraging to see that the UK is now the eighth largest manufacturer by output in the world, and that the majority of UK adults believe we should be aiming to be in the top five.'

A Business Department spokesman said: 'The UK is the fifth largest economy and manufacturing is an important part of our global success as we prepare to leave the European Union.

'Our industrial strategy is supporting the sector, ensuring it can continue to grow and share its success through the creation of good jobs across the whole of the country.'