Letter: The dangerous illusion that we must export more

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The Independent Online
YOUR editorial ('Unfit to compete', 25 April) is right to say that we cannot afford another economic boom because we are likely to pay for it with IOUs. You go on to say that we must export more than we import. This is obviously true, but I hope you are not going to fall prey to the illusion that our failure as a nation is that we export too little.

On a micro-economic level we clearly possess the means to pay for a lot of imported materials, including increasing amounts of manufactured goods. Who would have thought a generation ago that we would be importing cars in large numbers from countries such as Malaysia? The central problem of the British economy is not that we export too little but that we import too much. This makes it more urgent that we tackle our skills shortages; it also means that government financial help should be targeted less at exporters and more at companies who can recapture our domestic market in manufactured goods.

Dr Roger A Fisken

Bedale, North Yorks

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