Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Economy of the United Kingdom
|Economy of the United Kingdom|
|Currency||1 Pound Sterling (£) = 100 pence (p)|
|Fiscal year||April 1 – March 31|
|Trade Organisations||EU, WTO and OECD|
|GDP Ranking (2005)||4th by nominal volume; 13th by nominal volume per capita; 6th by volume adjusted for PPP; 16th per capita adjusted for PPP.|
|GDP growth rate (2004)||3.0%|
|GDP per Capita (2003)||$28,237|
|GDP by sector (2003)||agriculture (0.9%), industry (26.5%), services (72.6%)|
|Inflation rate (2003)||1.4%|
|Pop below poverty line (2002)||17%|
|Labour force (2003)||29.6m|
|Labour force by occupation (2002)||services (74%), industry (25%), agriculture (1%)|
|Unemployment rate (2003)||5%|
|Main Industries||machine tools, electric power equipment, automation equipment, railroad equipment, shipbuilding, aircraft, motor vehicles and parts, electronics and communications equipment, metals, chemicals, coal, petroleum, paper and paper products, food processing, textiles, clothing, and other consumer goods|
|Main Partners (2003)||Germany 13.5%, USA 10.2%, France 8.1%, Netherlands 6.3%, Belgium 4.9%, Italy 4.7%|
|Main Partners (2003)||USA 15.7%, Germany 10.5%, France 9.5%, Netherlands 6.9%, Ireland 6.5%, Belgium 5.6%, Spain 4.4%, Italy 4.4%|
|Public Debt||$849bn (51% of GDP)|
|External Debt (1998)||N/A|
|Economic Aid (2001)||$4.5bn|
The United Kingdom, a leading trading power and financial centre, has the fourth largest economy in the world, the second largest in Europe, and is a member of the European Union. Its capital, London, is the largest financial centre in the world.
GDP growth slipped in 2001–2002 as the global downturn, the high price of the Pound Sterling, and the bursting of the "new economy" bubble hurt manufacturing and exports. However the UK economy is one of the strongest of the larger Europe economies; inflation, interest rates, and unemployment remain low. Growth is now at 3.0% per annum, which is higher than that of France, Germany and many other European countries.
Due to North Sea oil, during the 1990s the UK became a net hydrocarbon exporter, and the second largest producer of oil in western Europe after Norway. In June 2004 hydrocarbon exports fell below imports for the first time, although they are not expected to do so permanently for some years.
Around about 80% of UK electricity is currently generated from fossil fuels, nuclear power and an increasing contribution from wind turbines make up the bulk of the remainder. The UK is the world's 8th greatest producer of carbon emissions, producing around 2.3% of the total generated from fossil fuels. The government is a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol and has launched a Climate Change Programme to reduce emissions significantly beyond the Kyoto commitments.
Manufacturing continues to decline in importance. In the 1960s and 70s manufacturing was a significant part of the UK's economic output. However a lot of the heavy manufacturing industry was goverment run and had failed to respond to world markets. State industries were sold off and over the 20th century many (and others) closed as it was unable to compete. For example in 2005 the country's last volume car maker, the MG Rover Group, went into administration after failing to come to agreement with the SIAC group of China to form a joint venture that might have saved the company. The UK is left with a very small domestic manufacturing sector, though British companies world wide continued to have a role in the sector through foreign investment. Closure of UK factories and movement of manufacturing to eastern Europe and the "Far East" in search of lower costs (especially through lower wages and less strict employment laws) contines to benefit share-holders but not the UK economy as a whole.
Agriculture is intensive, highly mechanised , and efficient by European standards, producing about 60% of food needs with only 1% of the labour force. It contributes around 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, potatoes, sugar beets, fruits and vegetables. The livestock that is raised is cattle and sheep. Agriculture is heavily subsidised by the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy and it is not known how large a sector it would be if free market rules applied. The GDP from the farming sector is argued by some to be a small return on the subsidies given.
The relatively good economic performance has complicated the Blair government's efforts to make a case for Britain to leave the Pound Sterling and join the Euro. The British Prime Minister has pledged to hold a public referendum if membership meets Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown's "five economic tests". The tests are:
- Are business cycles and economic structures compatible with European interest rates on a permanent basis?
- If problems emerge, is there sufficient flexibility to deal with them?
- What impact would entry into the Euro have on the UK's financial services industry?
- Would joining the Euro create better conditions for firms making long-term decisions to invest in Britain?
- Would joining the Euro promote higher growth, stability and a lasting increase in jobs?
When assessing the tests, Gordon Brown concluded that while the decision was close, the United Kingdom should not yet join the Euro. In particular, he cited fluctuations in house prices as a barrier to immediate entry. The tests will be reassessed in the future. Public opinion polls show that a majority of Britons are currently opposed to the single currency.
The strenth of the UK economy varies from region to region. GDP, and GDP per capita is highest in London. The following table shows the GDP (2002) per capita of the 12 NUTS:2 areas, with data supplied by Eurostat.
|Rank||Place||GDP per capita|
|1||London, England||40 068|
|2||South East, England||27 104|
|4||East of England||23 325|
|5||South West, England||23 052|
|6||West Midlands, England||22 123|
|7||East Midlands, England||21 892|
|8||North West, England||21 878|
|9||Yorkshire and the Humber, England||21 832|
|10||Northern Ireland||19 608|
|11||North East, England||19 249|
| Income distribution|
|Consumer prices inflation||RPI: 3% (2004), CPI: 1.6% (2004)|
| Labour force composition|
|Industrial growth||-0.3% (1999)|
|Electricity production||343,099 GWh (1998)|
| Electricity production composition|
|Electricity consumption||331,565 GWh (2003)|
|Electricity exports||200 GWh (1998)|
|Electricity imports||2,160 GWh (2003)|
|Agriculture products||cereals, oilseed, potatoes, vegetables; cattle, sheep, poultry; fish|
|Exported commodities||manufactured goods, fuels, chemicals; food, beverages (notably Scotch whisky), tobacco|
|Imported commodities||manufactured goods, machinery, fuels; foodstuffs|
| £ per US$1|
| 0.5495 (August 2004)|
| £ per EU€1|
| 0.6597 (August 2004)|
- Economic history of Great Britain
- City of London - the largest financial centre in the world.
- British banknotes
- British coinage
- United Kingdom
- UK topics
- Economy of Europe
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