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Letter: Welsh wages compare well

Sir: Your article on Korean investment in Wales ("Come to low-wage Wales", 13 January) implied that Korean investors come to Wales solely because of low wage costs, and suggested that the Welsh Development Agency was more concerned with attracting investors than with creating well-paid jobs for Welsh workers. Neither claim is valid.

The 1996 New Earnings Survey shows that average male and female manual manufacturing wages in Wales are slightly higher than the Great Britain average. Males working in manufacturing in Wales earn pounds 323.80 a week, while in GB they earn pounds 323.60. For females, the figures are pounds 205.70 and pounds 205. Although, when one looks at the economy as a whole, wages in Wales are 10.4 per cent lower than elsewhere in Great Britain, that is because less well-paid sectors are concentrated here. Wales has a high concentration of people working in agriculture and tourism, but they do not earn significantly less than people in equivalent jobs across the border.

The Welsh Development Agency is responsible for securing the long-term economic regeneration of Wales. It is naive to suggest this can be done simply by attracting investors who are "stalking the worldwide labour market". Wales wants to attract companies who intend to stay in Wales, re-invest here and create jobs for the long term. This is why Wales is now home to companies such as Ford, Sony and Panasonic.

In the case of Korean-based LG, one of the factors that encouraged the company to come to Wales was a survey of leading inward investors which showed that 92 per cent felt that the Welsh workforce exceeded their requirements for commitment and productivity.


Chief Economist

Welsh Development Agency