HC Deb 29 January 1981 vol 997 cc499-500W
25. Mr. Sheerman

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will introduce measures to improve the competitiveness of British exports.

Mr. Lawson

The Government's economic policies aim to achieve a sustained improvement in the performance of the economy through the reduction of inflation and the promotion of enterprise and initiative. This is the only way to secure a lasting improvement in the competitiveness of British exports.

35. Mr. Hooley

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what calculations have been made by the Treasury of the combined effects of high energy prices and the high value of sterling on the competitiveness of exports.

Mr. Lawson

Many factors influence the competitiveness of exports. A number of measures of competitiveness are published in "Economic Trends". Between 1978 and 1980 about two-fifths of the loss of competitiveness as measured by the IMF index of normalised relative unit labour costs was due to the appreciation of sterling and about three-fifths to our labour costs increasing faster than those of our competitors. This index does not include energy prices. The available evidence suggests that energy prices charged to most parts of British industry are not out of line with those charged to our European competitors, and that aggregate energy costs are not a major component of total industrial costs.