But,on the other hand, this is where our skills lie—in high value added, high skilled, knowledge intensive operations. So we also have a huge opportunity to benefit—as China develops outwards, moves into new markets and embraces new technologies—to offer our unique skills and expertise, which are so in evidence here today.
We are the best place in Europe to do business. This is not just rhetoric. The statistics prove it. We attract almost a quarter of all investment into the EU, twice as much from the US as our closest European competitor, and around 40% of all Japanese investment in Europe.
There are three main strengths Britain has to offer inward investors;
First, macro-economic stability—the crucial foundation for business success. We have the lowest inflation and interest rates in 40 years. In 2001, we experienced the fastest growth in the G713.
Second, our position in the EU—providing an excellent gateway into Europe. The EU already offers a customer base of almost 400 million. After enlargement, this will be almost 500 million.
Third, British scientists, innovators, managers and leaders are the best in the world. With 1 % of the world's population, we fund 5% of the world's science produce 8% of all the world's scientific papers, and get 9% of scientific citations.
Our skills in research, software, marketing and design are the best in the world. And we are well ahead in areas like mobile communications and digital TV and in areas like semiconductor design. All areas are strongly represented here today.
And it is these skills which I know are particularly relevant to you—because these are the skills that are driving the new information and communication technology industries. And Britain really is excelling in them, which is why world leaders such as Intel, CISCO and Exodux have all invested in Britain- Bill Gates has called the UK "the best place in the world to do E-business".
Ralph Averbuch, UK producer of Yahoo, has called the UK "… by far the most I mature on-line market in Europe". We have the most developed and largest market in ICT in Europe—one of the most connected economies in the world. We transact more than ￡ 57 billion worth of sales over the Internet. This is on a par wide the USA and Canada—and way ahead of countries like Germany and Sweden.