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Economy in Great Britain
Great Britain is one of the world´s leading industrialized nations. It has the 6th-largest national economy in the world measured by nominal gross domestic product (GDP) and 8th-largest in the world measured by purchasing power parity (PPP).
In the 18th century the UK was the first country to industrialize and during the 19th century had a dominant role in the global economy. From the late 19th century the Second Industrial Revolution in the United States and Germany presented an increasing economic challenge, and the costs of fighting World War I and World War II further weakened the UK´s relative position. However it still maintains a significant role in the world economy, particularly in financial services and the knowledge economy.
During the 1970s and 80s, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs were lost, but in the 1990s over 3.5 million jobs were created in service-related industries. By the late 1990s, banking, insurance, business services, and other service industries accounted for two thirds of the GDP and employed almost 70% of the workforce. This trend was also reflected in a shift in Great Britain´s economic base, which has benefited the southeast, southwest, and Midlands regions of the country, while the north of England and Northern Ireland have been hard hit by the changing economy.
Great Britain has abundant supplies of coal, oil, and natural gas. Production of oil from offshore wells in the North Sea began in 1975, and the country is self-sufficient in petroleum. Other mineral resources include iron ore, tin, limestone, salt, china clay, oil shale, gypsum, and lead.
About 25% of Britain´s land is arable, and almost half is suitable for meadows and pastures. Its agriculture is highly mechanized and extremely productive; barley, wheat, rapeseed, potatoes, sugar beets, fruits, and vegetables are the main crops. The widespread dairy industry produces milk, eggs, and cheese. Beef cattle and large numbers of sheep, as well as poultry and pigs, are raised throughout much of the country. There is also a sizable fishing industry, with cod, haddock, mackerel, whiting, trout, salmon, and shellfish making up the bulk of the catch.
Since the early 1970s, Great Britain´s trade focus has shifted from the United States to the European Union, which now accounts for over 50% of its trade. Germany, the United States, France, and the Netherlands are the main trading partners, and the Commonwealth countries are also important. The country must import about 40% of its food supplies. Thus, its prosperity has been dependent upon the export of manufactured goods in exchange for raw materials and foodstuffs. The country´s chief exports are manufactured goods, machinery, fuels, chemicals, semifinished goods, and transport equipment. The chief imports are fruit and vegetables, machinery, consumer goods.
The economy of Great Britain is based largely on private enterprises but has some major publicly owned industries (notably coal, steel, gas, electricity and railways) and a few joint enterprises. The Government is reducing the size of the public sector, returning parts of the steel, transport, telecommunications and aerospace industries, for example, to private enterprise. Within the manufacturing sector, the largest industries include machine tools; electric power, automation, and railroad equipment; ships; motor vehicles and parts; aircraft; electronic and communications equipment; metals; chemicals; petroleum; coal; textiles and clothing.
Government involvement in the British economy is primarily exercised by HM Treasury, headed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The Bank of England is the UK´s central bank and its Monetary Policy Committee is responsible for setting interest rates. The currency of the UK is the pound sterling, which is ....