Letter: Cut imports

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IT IS obvious that this country needs a larger manufacturing base, but why do we need more exports (Letters, 17 July)? Figures from the Institution of Electrical Engineers publication UK Manufacturing Facing International Change show that the UK's visible exports were more per head than Japan and the United States in 1992. However, because we also imported more per head than both, our balance is a net import of dollars 544 per head, compared with the US's dollars 420 per head and Japan's export balance of dollars 1,063. These figures include only visible trade. Naturally, if the UK spends more than it earns, it has to borrow to fund the difference.

Export is risky because of changes in exchange rates, differences in local markets etc. Perhaps we should consider import substitution, a policy adopted by many Third World countries. This involves finding out which products form the bulk of our imports, and encouraging manufacturers to design and build them (at competitive prices and quality) in the UK. As the manufacturers are addressing the local UK market, the risks for them are lower, but the domestic production has the same effect on our balance of trade.

Donald Horrell

Wallsend, Tyne & Wear