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Professor Philip Cooke
"We don't come very high in either the UK or national stakes"
 real 28k

First Secretary Rhodri Morgan
"We don't have a very strong financial services sector and that is one of the reasons for the weak Welsh economic performance"
 real 28k

Sian Thomas of the Federation of Small Businesses
"The vast majority of small businesses are unaware of what's out there in terms of financial packages and training programmes"
 real 28k

Carl Hadley, Deputy Chairman Entrepreneurship Action
"We have not had a culture of developing our own businesses to the same extent as in England, so our entrepreneurs go abroad"
 real 28k

Monday, 3 April, 2000, 10:33 GMT 11:33 UK
Welsh businesses need support

If Wales took its place in the economic world league it would be wedged between Israel and Chile.

That is the assessment a Cardiff professor will tell the Welsh Development Agency about the state of the economy in Wales.

Professor Philip Cook says the Welsh economy simply is not competitive enough and claims Wales suffers from a lack of entrepreneurship.

In terms of ability to compete, commercially Prof Cooke said Wales was lagging behind every other part of the UK except the north east of England, coming 11th out of 12 regions.

Once-in-a-lifetime chance

The bleak view of the Welsh economy will be delivered by Prof Cooke to the WDA in a speech on Monday.

He said Wales was continuing to lose traditional industries while making very little impact in the new technologies.

The days of attracting huge inward investment projects from overseas were all but over, he said.

Companies were now looking at the lower labour costs in Eastern Europe, and he cited the decision of Lucas to shut down a factory in Ystradgynlais and move to Poland and Slovakia.

Prof Cooke said Wales should not give up on trying to attract overseas investors but added that the country needed to develop a new strategy centred on start-up firms based in the country.
Rhodri Morgan
Rhodri Morgan - structure not culture to blame


He said European Objective One finance provided Wales with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to reinvent itself and urged the Assembly to seize the initiative.

He has been backed by the Entrepreneurship Action Plan Group and the Federation of Small Business.

Carl Hadley, Deputy Chairman of the EAPG in the Assembly, said there were simply not enough new businesses starting up and not enough indigenous businesses.

"We have not had a culture of developing our own businesses to the same extent as in England, so our entrepreneurs go abroad," he said.

"We recommend over 30m extra is put in towards generating new businesses."

Weak Welsh economic performance

Sian Thomas, from the Federation of Small Business said there was a lot of rhetoric, but not much action in encouraging entrepreneurship and inward investment.

"The WDA is still directing too many resources towards attracting inward investment," she said.

"It is a fundamental problem towards the imbalance of inward investment and developing indigenous businesses in Wales and that needs to be addressed."

However, First Secretary Rhodri Morgan said the problem was not in the Welsh culture but in the past Welsh structure.

"We don't have a very strong financial services sector and that is one of the reasons for the weak Welsh economic performance," he said.

"I'm sure we can put that right over time but it's not there now."

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