Minister urges businesses to look East

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Business Secretary Vince Cable has said the UK’s economic recovery will depend “very heavily” on exports by firms such as BAE.

The government minister was in Warton yesterday to visit the aircraft manufacturer’s Eurofighter Typhoon assembly workshop and chat to workers.

Pictures Martin Bostock'Business minister Vince Cable on a visit to BAE Warton.

Pictures Martin Bostock'Business minister Vince Cable on a visit to BAE Warton.

BAE Systems recently clinched a £2.5bn deal to sell 12 Typhoon and eight Hawk trainer jets to Oman, securing the future of thousands of job at its plants in Warton, Samlesbury and Brough in East Yorkshire.

Mr Cable admitted that, with cuts in UK public spending on defence, it was important for the industry to target emerging Middle Eastern markets.

He said: “Obviously there is a shift in the balance taking place over time. There is less demand from UK defence for public spending and strategic reasons and increasingly the production from facilities like this is going to be export-based. We’ve had a very successful contractual conclusion recently with Oman but there are other countries in the Gulf and Asia in particular who are very interested in this product.

“I don’t think it’s right to talk about an over-reliance on exports. The trouble is that in the past Britain probably rather neglected exports and took our eye of the ball. 
“I think the future recovery of Britain depends very, very heavily on our ability to export successfully.”

Mr Cable also paid a visit to Leyland Trucks yesterday afternoon and held a meeting to discuss the progress of Lancashire’s Enterprise Zone, designed to create new jobs. He said: “It was one of the enterprise zones that was relatively slow to get agreed and off the ground but we have now got it. As I understand there are negotiations taking place with lots of investors. I think it’s too early to judge the success of the project but it’s an important part of industrial regeneration in the North West.”

- For more from Mr Cable’s visit to Lancashire, see LEP Business on Tuesday