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Main Industry SectorsEconomic OverviewForeign Direct Investment [FDI]FDI Government MeasuresCountry Strong PointsCountry Weak PointsForeign Trade Overview
The Agricultural sector accounts for less than 1% of the GDP, but is very productive. Main crops are potatoes, beetroot, wheat and barley. Livestock farming (especially sheep and cattle) continues to be a major agricultural activity, despite thecrises of "mad cow" and "foot and mouth" diseases. The fishing sector is also well developed but is currently suffering from the depletion of fish volumes inthe traditional fishing areas. The United Kingdom has considerable mineral resources. Once the worlds 10th biggest oil producer with huge natural gas reserves, its production is droppingfast. Groups like BP and Shell continue to be amongst the global leaders in the petroleum industry.
The secondary sector is not very competitive. The main activities are tool machinery, transport material and chemical products. The sectors with a good potential are information and communication technologies, bio-technology,aviation industry, renewable energies and defence. The services sector, which employs three quarters of the active population and contributes threequarters of the GDP, is the driving force behind the economy. London remains Europes largest financial market place, on par with New York.
The United Kingdom is the seventh global economy.The country has been going through a deep recession, deeply hit by the internationalfinancial crisis, due to the dominance of the third (financial) sector over its economy inApril 2008.After contracting by almost 5% in 2009, the GDP growth recovered slowly in 2010, risingto 1.7% according to estimates.Growth should remain slow in the coming years.The crisis has damaged the countrys public finances.
Aid to the financial sector and fiscal stimulus measures have deepened the deficit and increasedthe burden of public debt, the latter reaching record levels of 10% and 70% of GDP respectively. The governments priority is therefore to improve the budgetary situation. UK reform measures have been announced, notably regarding the educational system, socialsecurity, pension system, financial regulation, taxation, etc. The unemployment rate, before one of the lowest in Europe, has been rising sharply since thecrisis and is estimated at around 8%.
World Investment Report 2010 of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD),the United Kingdom is the fifth highest recipient of direct foreign investment (FDI) in the world. In 2008-2009, FDI flow was on the decline and this trend should continue in the coming years. FDI flux decreased sharply since the international financial crisis and should remain low in the comingyears. The UK nevertheless has real strengths: London still seems to be Europes financial capital. Great Britain has a strong currency and one of the most important European markets.
Once foreign companies are established in the UK, they are treated exactly like Britishfirms. Within the EU, the British Government is a strong defender of any British registeredcompanys rights, irrespective of its nationality or the nationality of its owner
One of the United Kingdoms main strong points is the speed of formalities: only thirteen days are requiredto set up a company in the United Kingdom, compared to the European average of 32 days, which puts thecountry in first place in Europe and sixth place in the world. Low taxation makes the environment investor-friendly. London is the worlds leader in terms of financialservices centers, on a number of key performance indicators and was once again voted best European city bythe European Cities Monitor, which studies the appeal of cities .
The countrys main weak points are: the financial sectors excessive influence on the GDP, poorquality infrastructures and a high level of competitiveness from foreign companies in the industrialsector.
The United Kingdom is one of the biggest actors of international trade. Trade represents almost 60% of its GDP. United Kingdom is the worlds second biggest exporter and the third biggest importer ofcommercial services, and the tenth biggest exporter and sixth biggest importer of goods. The United Kingdoms main trade partners are the European Union, the United States andChina. The United Kingdom shows a trade deficit: after an improvement during the globalrecession, following a global drop in trade, the deficit has again worsened and this trendshould continue in the coming years.
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