Investment in manufacturing fell again during the last quarter of 1998 to its lowest level since 1996, according to figures published this week by the Office for National Statistics.
This was the third successive quarterly fall in investment in the sector, which fell 6.6% compared with the same period in 1997. Engineering and vehicles saw the biggest fall, down 19.7%.
However, total business investment rose 6.6% over the same period.
Labour force statistics show a similar picture, with the total number of UK jobs rising to 23.8 million in 1998’s third quarter. But manufacturing employment fell slightly during the third quarter and further at the end of the year to finish below its 1996 level.
Meanwhile, the world market for heavy trucks is set to grow to 1.59 million in 2002, up from 1.34 million in 1998, according to a report published by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Most of the growth is expected to come from Asia-Pacific and Eastern Europe, with EU countries, such as the UK, seeing a fall in sales.
The report also predicts that global rationalisation will result in five large makers Mercedes-Benz (Germany), Navistar (US), Dongfeng (China), FAW (China) and Isuzu (Japan) dominating the market.