UK Economy: Sectors and Industries
The United Kingdom is a major developed capitalist economy. It is the world's sixth largest by nominal GDP and the seventh largest by purchasing power parity. It is the third largest economy in Europe after Germany's and France's in nominal terms, and the third largest after Germany's and Russia's in terms of purchasing power parity.
The Industrial Revolution started in the United Kingdom with an initial concentration on heavy industries such as shipbuilding, coal mining, steel production, and textiles. The empire created an overseas market for British products, allowing the UK to dominate international trade in the 19th century. However, as other nations industrialised, coupled with economic decline after two world wars, the United Kingdom began to lose its competitive advantage and heavy industry declined, by degrees, throughout the 20th century.
Manufacturing remains a significant part of the economy, but accounts for only one-sixth of national output. There’s been a steady decline in the importance of this sector to the British economy since the 1960s, although the sector is still important for overseas trade, accounting for 83% of exports. The regions with the highest proportion of employees in manufacturing are the East Midlands and West Midlands, London has the lowest.
Heavy industry, employing many thousands of people and producing large volumes of low-value goods (such as steelmaking) has either become highly efficient (producing the same amount of output from fewer manufacturing sites employing fewer people) or has been replaced by smaller industrial units producing high-value goods (such as the aerospace and electronics industries).
The British motor industry is a significant part of this sector, although it has diminished with the collapse of the MG Rover Group and most of the industry is foreign owned. Civil and defence aircraft production is led by the second largest defence contractor in the world, BAE Systems, and the continental European firm EADS, the owner of Airbus. Rolls-Royce holds a major share of the global aerospace engines market.
Another important component of manufacturing is electronics, audio and optical equipment, with the UK having a broad base of domestic firms, alongside a number of foreign firms manufacturing a wide range of TV, radio and communications products, scientific and optical instruments, electrical machinery and office machinery and computers.
The chemical and pharmaceutical industry is strong in the UK, with the world's second and sixth largest pharmaceutical firms (GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca, respectively) being based in the UK and having major research, development and manufacturing facilities there.
The UK service sector is the prevalent sector of the UK economy, a feature normally associated with the economy of a developed country. This means that the tertiary sector jobs outnumber the Secondary and Primary sector jobs. The service sector has grown substantially, and now makes up about 73% of GDP. It’s dominated by financial services, especially in banking and insurance. London is the world's largest financial centre with the London Stock Exchange, the London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange, and the Lloyd's of London insurance market all based in the City of London.
London is a major centre for international business and commerce and is the leader of the three "command centres" for the global economy (along with New York City and Tokyo). It has the largest concentration of foreign bank branches in the world. In the past decade, a rival financial centre in London has grown in the Docklands area, with the HSBC, the world's largest bank, and Barclays Bank relocating their head offices there. Many multinational companies that are not primarily UK-based have chosen to site their European or rest-of-world headquarters in London: an example is the US financial services firm Citigroup.
Several other major UK cities have large financial sectors and related services, most notably Leeds, which is now the UK's largest centre for business and financial services outside London, and the largest legal centre outside London, as well as Edinburgh, the eleventh largest banking centre in Europe and home to the Royal Bank of Scotland (the third largest bank in Europe), HBOS (owners of the Bank of Scotland), and Standard Life Insurance.
Tourism is very important to the British economy. With over 27 million tourists arriving in 2004, the United Kingdom is ranked as the sixth major tourist destination in the world. London, by a considerable margin, is the most visited city in the world with 15.6 million visitors in 2006, ahead of 2nd placed Bangkok (10.4 million visitors) and 3rd placed Paris (9.7 million).
TransportAcross the UK, there is a radial road network (46,904 kilometers) of main roads with a motorway network of 3,497 kilometers. The rail network of 16,116 km in Great Britain carries over 18,000 passenger trains and 1,000 freight trains daily. Urban rail networks are well developed in London and other cities.
The Highways Agency is the executive agency responsible for trunk roads and motorways in England apart from the privately owned and operated M6 Toll. The Department for Transport states that traffic congestion is one of the most serious transport problems. According to the government-sponsored report of 2006, congestion is in danger of harming the economy, unless tackled by road pricing and expansion of the transport network.
London Heathrow Airport, located 15 miles west of the capital, is the UK's busiest airport and has the most international passenger traffic of any airport in the world.
Historically, much of the United Kingdom was forested. Since prehistoric times, man has deforested much of the United Kingdom.
Agriculture is intensive, highly mechanised, and efficient by European standards, producing about 60% of food needs with less than 2% of the labour force. It contributes about 2% of GDP. Around two-thirds of production is devoted to livestock, one-third to arable crops. The main crops that are grown are wheat, barley, oats, oilseed rape, maize for animal feeds, potatoes and sugar beet. New crops are also emerging, such as linseed for oil and hemp for fibre production. The main livestock raised are cattle, chickens (the UK is the second largest poultry producer in Europe after France) and sheep.
In 1993, it was estimated that land use was:
· Arable land: 25 %
· Permanent pastures: 46 %
· Forests and Woodland: 10 %
· Other: 19 %
· Irrigated: 1,080 km².
The UK retains a significant, although vastly reduced, fishing industry. Its fleets, based in towns such as Kingston upon Hull, Grimsby, Fleetwood, Great Yarmouth, Peterhead, Fraserburgh, and Lowestoft, bring home fish ranging from sole to herring.
Answer the questions to the text:
1. Prove that the United Kingdom is a major developed capitalist economy, one of the biggest economies in the world.
2. What is the share of manufacturing in the UK’s GDP and exports?
3. What manufacturing industries are developed in Great Britain?
3. Explain why the service sector is the prevalent one in the UK economy.
4. What makes Great Britain a major financial centre of the world?
5. What UK cities are financial services concentrated in?
6. Why tourism is important for the economy of Great Britain?
7. What are the most important means of transport in the UK?
8. Is it right to say that British agriculture is efficient? Why?
9. What main crops and livestock are cultivated in the UK?
Agree or disagree with the statements.
1. The Industrial Revolution started in the UK with an initial concentration on light industries.
2. Manufacturing remains a significant part of the UK economy, but accounts for only one-seventh of national output.
3. Heavy industry in the UK has either become highly efficient or has been replaced by smaller industrial units producing high-value goods.
4. The chemical and pharmaceutical industry is strong in the UK.
5. The UK service sector makes up about 93% of GDP.
6. The UK service sector is dominated by financial services, especially in banking and insurance.
7. Tourism is not very important to the British economy.
8. The Railway Agency is the executive agency responsible for trunk roads and motorways in England apart from the privately owned and operated M6 Toll.
9. Agriculture in the UK is intensive, highly mechanised, and efficient by European standards.
Economy: Past and Present
The UK was the first country in the world to industrialize in the 18th and 19th centuries, and for much of the 19th century possessed a predominant role in the global economy. However, by the late 19th century, the Second Industrial Revolution in the United States meant the US had begun to challenge Britain's role as the leader of the global economy. The extensive war efforts of both World Wars in the 20th century and the dismantlement of the British Empire also weakened the UK economy in global terms, and by that time Britain had been superseded by the United States as the chief player in the global economy. At the start of the 21st century however, the UK still maintains an important role in the world, due to its large Gross Domestic Product and the financial importance that its capital, London, possesses in the world.
Following the end of World War II, there was a long interval without a major recession (1945 - 1973) and a growth in prosperity in the 1950s and 1960s. However, following the severe shock of the 1973 oil crisis and the 1973–1974 stock market crash, the British economy went into recession in 1974. A new period of neo-liberal economics began with the advent of the government of Margaret Thatcher of 1979. Most state-owned enterprises in the industrial and service sectors, which since the 1940s had been nationalised, were privatised. As a result, the British Government owned very few industries or businesses. According to the IMF, GDP rose to 5% at its peak in 1988 as banks and other financial institutions in the UK enjoyed the liberalisation of the regulatory structures and greater freedom to explore new investment vehicles with less oversight.
After a mild recession in the early 1990s, there followed the longest period of sustained economic growth Britain had seen for more than 150 years, achieving growth in every quarter between 1992 and 2007, one of the highest economic growth rates of major developed economies during that time.
This boom ended in 2008 when the United Kingdom entered a recession brought about by the global financial crisis. Beginning with the collapse of Northern Rock, which was taken into public ownership in February 2008, major banks failed and were nationalised.
During August 2008 the IMF warned that the UK economic outlook had worsened due to a twin shock: financial turmoil as well as rising commodity prices. Both developments harm the UK more than most developed countries, as the UK obtains revenue from exporting financial services while recording deficits in finished goods and commodities, including food.
In 2008, the UK had the world's third largest current account deficit, despite significant oil revenues, according to the IMF. This was mainly the result of a large deficit in the trade in manufactured goods.
In May 2009 the European Commission (EC) stated: "The UK economy is now clearly experiencing one of its worst recessions in recent history." The EC expected GDP to decline and projected that growth would remain negative in 2009. It predicted "virtual stagnation" in early 2010, followed by a gradual return to "slight positive growth by late 2010".
Today the United Kingdom is one of the world's most globalised countries. The capital, London, is a major financial centre for international business and commerce and is one of three "command centres" for the global economy (along with New York City and Tokyo). The British economy is made up (in descending order of size) of the economies of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In 1973, the UK acceded to the European Economic Community which is now known as the European Union after the ratification of the Treaty of Maastricht in 1993.
The United Kingdom is also a member of the G8, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the World Trade Organisation, and the European Union.
Answer the questions to the text:
1. When did the UK possess a predominant role in the global economy?
2. Why did the position of Great Britain in the world economy weaken in the 20th century?
3. What factors allow Great Britain to maintain an important role in the modern world ?
3. Describe main economic and political trends that took place after World War II.
4. Describe the state of the British economy in the 1990s.
5. What trends characterize the UK economy at the present period of its development?
Agree or disagree with the statements.
1. The UK was the first country in the world to industrialize in the 18th and 19th centuries.
2. The extensive war efforts of both World Wars in the 20th century improved the UK economy in global terms.
3. A new period of neo-liberal economics began with the advent of the government of Tony Blair.
4. In 2003 the UK entered a recession brought about by the global financial crisis.
5. In 2008 the UK had the world’s second largest current account deficit.
6. Today the UK is one of the world’s most globalised counties.