UK Manufacturing Surpasses France: A New Era?

UK Manufacturing On The Up

UK manufacturing on the up. Credit: one photo/

Is the UK reclaiming its manufacturing prowess? Recent data suggests a promising shift in the global manufacturing landscape.

On the back of the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the UK’s manufacturing output soared to £224 billion last year, according to the Express, Wednesday, September 13.

Booming Manufacturing Sector

Despite the broader economy showing only slight growth, a fresh report released today by Make UK highlights a flourishing goods production sector. In the 1970s, products like British cars, aircraft, and chemicals made up a quarter of the GDP. However, the subsequent move towards services saw this contribution dip below ten per cent.

Make UK believes that if the government sticks to its aim of manufacturing contributing 15 per cent of GDP, it could inject an extra £142 billion into the British economy. This would surpass any potential gains from post-Brexit trade deals currently under discussion.

UK Climbs The Global Ranks

The robust performance of the sector has propelled the UK past France, making it the world’s eighth-largest manufacturer, based on the most recent global data. In 2021, the UK’s manufacturing output was £218 billion, trailing Italy’s £252 billion but surpassing France’s £210 billion.

However, Make UK warns that while this rise in rankings is ‘encouraging’, it’s only the third time in 20 years that the UK has outperformed its French counterpart.

World’s Top 10 Countries  In Manufacturing Sector Output (2021)

  • China $4,865,827,260,000
  • United States $2,497,131,580,000
  • Japan $995,308,970,000
  • Germany $803,213,140,000
  • South Korea $461,104,310,000
  • India $443,911,660,000
  • Italy $314,095,610,000
  • United Kingdom $274,872,280,000
  • France $262,642,860,000
  • Russia $256,958,270,000

The Impact On Jobs And Trade

Representing 20,000 manufacturers nationwide, Make UK states that the sector now underpins 2.6 million jobs. On average, these roles offer salaries that are nine per cent higher than the national average. The mean yearly gross pay stands at £36,488, compared to £33,402 overall, and £32,676 in the services sector.

Exports from the UK have also seen a boost. Exports surged by 19.5 per cent in the year leading up to June, while imports increased by 11.7 per cent. Consequently, the total trade value has reached a record-breaking figure of nearly £1.75 trillion.

The car industry played a significant role in the UK’s 0.2 per cent economic growth in the last quarter. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) projects that car production in the UK will exceed last year’s figures by 100,000 units.

Yet, data from the Department for Business and Trade reveals that cars rank third in the UK’s export value hierarchy. The top spot is occupied by ‘unspecified goods’, which encompasses non-monetary gold, precious metals, and notably, defence equipment. These goods accounted for exports worth £43.7 billion in the past year, followed by £32.2 billion from mechanical power generators and £28.8 billion from cars.

Make UK reiterates its plea for the government to devise a long-term strategy. They aim to realise the ambition of manufacturing making up 15 per cent of GDP, with hopes of surpassing Italy in global rankings.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.