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BBC Wales' Mile Fletcher reports
"ASW holds its head above water"
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Monday, 28 May, 2001, 12:51 GMT 13:51 UK
Steel chief warns of euro dangers
steel making
Steel company boss warns of long-term future
The chief executive of Wales' biggest independent manufacturing firm has warned that it may not survive - in the long-term - if Britain stays out of the European single currency.

Graham Mackenzie from the steel company ASW has also accused the political parties of "trivialising" the issue in the general election campaign.

While the steel giant Corus has been cutting jobs and closing plants ASW - a major Welsh based steel company - has been just about holding its head above water.

ASW Chief Executive Graham Mackenzie,
ASW boss Graham Mackenzie issues warning over firms future
Half of the company's output is exported to other european countries and it has been helped by the construction boom in the Republic of Ireland - a major customer of the steel rods which ASW makes in Cardiff .

But the strength of sterling against euro zone currencies has badly hit profits, a situation which the boss accuses the politicians of ignoring.

Mr Mackenzie said: "The decline in manufacturing does appear to be accelerating, there are closures being announced and I think it has to be said that the major issue there is actually the one of currency.

From a business point of view I don't think we can survive long-term whilst we are exposed to the currency fluctuation which is currently happening between the pound and the euro

Graham Mackenzie, ASW Chief Executive
"ASW is party to that because we export about half our volume all of that goes into our euro zone and we're finding it very difficult.

"I mean the 'Keep the Pound' which the Tories are pursuing and the Labour Party's avoidence on the issue - I think is a real concern to the business community because a large number of companies like my own are very dependant on european markets.

"There is not a mature debate going on about Britains future in or out of the euro or indeed Britains future in or out of the community as a whole.

Although Mr Mackenzie described the construction market as "buoyant" he also warned of the affects that the a lack of decision over the euro would have on the manufacturing industry.

"From a business point of view I don't think we can survive long-term whilst we are exposed to the currency fluctuation which is currently happening between the pound and the euro."

While opinion poll evidence suggests most people are opposed to Britain signing up the Euro - none of the main parties, including the Conservatives, are ruling it out completely.

Only Plaid Cymru is offering unequicoal support for the single currency .


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