For months now the Treasury has been greeting the monthly trade figures as if they represented some sort of industrial victory. The truth is that we are running deficits on manufactured goods each month which approximate the annual deficits of just a few years ago.
Our manufacturing base has been grievously eroded in the past two recessions. More than 2 million jobs already have been lost from this sector. Investment is at a critically low level. In recent weeks we have seen a further catastrophic loss of jobs in some of the most highly skilled areas of industry.
Rebuilding our wealth-producing manufacturing base is going to take a massive effort from government and both sides of industry. At the moment, ministers and representatives of many employers refuse to listen to the overwhelming case put by unions such as ours. Our members in manufacturing and the service industries know better than anyone else that we cannot have effective recovery until we are competing successfully in both foreign and domestic markets.
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