Page last updated at 05:58 GMT, Monday, 19 April 2010 06:58 UK

Wales has 'least competitive' UK economy, says report

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Strategy for the Welsh economy needs a 're-think,' says the report's authors

The Welsh economy is the least competitive in the UK, according to new academic research.

One of the authors of the University of Wales Institute Cardiff (Uwic) findings said it showed the country was becoming "increasingly detached".

The UK Competitiveness Index puts Wales at the bottom, having been overtaken by the north east of England.

The Welsh Assembly Government said the evidence supporting the findings was "incomplete".

The competitive index, first published in 2000, focuses on areas such as research and development, business start-up rates and the number of exports.

It found that the least competitive localities across Britain were all in Wales.

Blaenau Gwent was the least competitive overall, followed by Merthyr Tydfil, Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taf.

However, Cardiff performed strongly, being ranked fourth among large cities in the UK behind only Edinburgh, Bristol, and Manchester, and the 14th most competitive city overall.

'Finland'

Professor Robert Huggins, of the Centre for International Competitiveness at Uwic, said the results highlighted the "increasingly desperate state our economy has fallen into".

He said: "While the north of England is making significant progress in improving competitiveness, Wales is becoming increasingly detached.

"Like many British cities, Cardiff and Newport have benefited from significant investment in urban regeneration.

"However, this has not been translated into improvement for the Welsh economy as a whole.

"There is little evidence that devolution and the establishment of the Welsh assembly is contributing to improved competitiveness. In fact, the opposite appears to be largely true."

Prof Huggins called for "re-think" of strategy and policymaking in Wales.

'Positive picture'

He added Wales "should look to nations such as Finland, where its economic development strategy is signed-up to by all parties, and remains in place regardless of changes in power".

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesman said: "While the competitiveness index is an interesting approach, the evidence supporting the approach is incomplete at best.

"Other indictors suggest a more positive picture. For example, Wales has had larger increases than the UK in employment and household income per head since devolution and the new wealth and assets survey shows that Wales had the fifth highest total wealth per household in Great Britain.

"However, we are working tirelessly to secure the recovery and build a sustainable economy for Wales that not only safeguards jobs now, but also creates long-term, high quality jobs."



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