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Beckett backs competition

Margaret Beckett, President of the Board of Trade, will tonight give her backing to a fresh initiative designed to boost the competitiveness of manufacturing industry by 50 per cent.

The campaign, spearheaded by the Confederation of British Industry, is aimed at putting British firms on a par with their US counterparts and increasing national output by 10 per cent, or pounds 60bn.

The centrepiece of the initiative will be a national best practice campaign to promote better standards of leadership, productivity, operational performance, quality, customer service and innovation throughout industry.

Mrs Beckett will endorse the campaign when she chairs the first meeting tonight of the Government's competitiveness advisory forum and speaks at a special CBI debate on manufacturing.

Alec Daly, chairman of the CBI's National Manufacturing Council, said British industry had come a long way since the mid-1980s but that the improvement was beginning to slow down and it still lacked sufficient world class companies.

The aim of the best practice campaign will be to encourage firms to benchmark themselves against the most efficient companies in their sector and elsewhere in the world.

The CBI believes the campaign will highlight the areas in which many areas of manufacturing are lacking.