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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 August, 2003, 13:15 GMT 14:15 UK
Wales wilts in wealth league
Piles of money, calculator
Wales averaged 11,400 compared with 19,500 for London
Wales is lagging behind all but two areas in the UK wealth-producing stakes - Northern Ireland and north east England.

An official financial trends survey released on Wednesday puts Wales in the lower end of the national wealth league but shows promising growth in the service industry sector.

But assembly finance minister Sue Essex dismissed the figures as "two years old" and said the picture for Wales was in fact much brighter.

In the Gross Value Added (GVA) survey published on Wednesday, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) put London at the top of the economic growth league with a 16.5% of the total UK figure. Northern Ireland had the smallest, with a 2.2% share and Wales a 3.9%.

Total UK national GVA was 851.4 bn; Wales' contribution totalled 33.1 bn compared with London's 140.4 bn.

Per head Wales averaged 11,400 compared with 19,500 for London.

GVA gives the difference between output and intermediate consumption for any given sector or industry and is used as an indicator of the sector's performance.

The ONS figures confirm that Wales is marginally less well-off with the GVA falling from 79.4% of the UK average in 1998-1999, to 78.8% in 2000-2001.

GVA is comparable to the older Gross Domestic Product (GDP) definition in terms of measurement of GDP as the total of incomes earned from the production of goods and services.

Sue Essex
Finance minister Sue Essex - "statistics are two years old."

GDP denotes GVA plus taxes (and less subsidies) and is now regarded as the European Union standard for accounting.

The assembly set targets at the beginning of 2001 to increase Wales's GDP (or GVA) to 84% by 2002, and 90% by 2010.

Commenting on the figures for Wales, finance minister Sue Essex said: "It's a very marginal change, 0.4%, you know. Quite honestly it's not something I feel too dismal about and I wouldn't have felt too excited if it had been 0.4% the other way.

"The thing to remember about them, of course, is they're two years old and the other statistics that really are important to us, in terms of job creation, in terms of wages - they're all very much in the right direction.

"I think those are the things that really matter to people in Wales."

The ONS figures show that only three areas of Britain - London, the south east and the east have above average GVA.

The GVA figures show that Wales dropped from 141m in the section mining and quarrying of energy-producing materials in 1989 to 60m in 2000.

The sector containing agriculture, along with forestry and fishing, dropped from 141m in 1989 to 60m in 2000.

Manufacturing increased from 6054m over the same period to 7826m with construction edging up from 1338m to 1680m.

But the service industries have showed a great leap in the same period with the wholesale and retail trade jumping from 1842m to 3491m.

The hotel and restaurant sector showed the influence of the increasing tourism industry in Wales with a jump in GVA from 518m in 1889 to 3491m in 2000.

The Welsh Development Agency stressed that manufacturing remained vital to Wales and provided jobs for 230,00 people. The sector was also linked to many companies providing services and supplies and themselves providing employment.

The WDA also supported the service sector through working with partners such as the Wales Tourist Board on projects throughout Wales.

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