The New StatesmanThe New Statesman

Why we need an industrial strategy

By Ross Mudie

10 May 2023 · 3 min read

Editor's Note

The U.S. and EU have developed robust industrial strategies, but the U.K. remains hesitant, argues The New Statesman's Ross Mudie. That needs to change with a "new manufacturing mission," he says.

Industrial strategy is back in fashion. As part of the emerging subsidy war between the US and EU both sides have launched charm offensives to global investors, each seeking to secure their position in the competition for 21st-century industrial superiority. Hundreds of thousands of high-paying jobs are poised to be created across the US rust belt, particularly in manufacturing and the green economy, as companies have already committed more than $200bn to manufacturing projects alone. In response, the EU has hurried to forge a consensus around its plans to enhance its own economic security – namely the European Sovereignty Fund, and the Green Deal Industrial Plan.

Industrial strategy may be in vogue, but the UK remains hesitant. Attempts to woo business leaders are not going to plan. The launch of Rishi Sunak’s new "Business Connect" forum last month felt second order to the frenzy of firms quitting the scandal-hit Confederation of British Industry (CBI). Since then, Microsoft’s president has lambasted the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) for blocking its bid to acquire the video game giant Activision, stating that “the European Union is a more attractive place to start a business than the United Kingdom”. The manufacturing company Unipart said last month that it is considering its investments in the US and Europe, citing generous subsidies under President Biden's Inflation Reduction Act and the EU's Net Zero Industry Act.

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