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Nations Choose Prosperity Why Britain Needs an Industrial Policy

Ruth Lea, July 2009

After years of being seen as outmoded, industrial policy is back on the political agenda, this time renamed ‘industrial activism’. There is a widespread concern, fuelled by the crisis in the financial sector, that we have been too complacent about the decline in UK manufacturing, assuming that service industries would guarantee continuing prosperity with or without a vibrant manufacturing base. No one argues for protectionism: free enterprise and competitive markets are vital, and the primary causes of economic prosperity are the talent and energy of the individuals who make up a nation. However, there needs to be a constant effort to ensure that laws, regulations and public policies provide people with the best possible conditions for free enterprise. Certainly low taxes and the avoidance of over-regulation are vital, but positive policies are also needed in transport, ports, energy and monetary policy, public procurement and much more if we are not to fall behind.

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