UK chems face 'total re-invention' in low carbon drive - Mandelson

19 November 2009 15:29  [Source: ICIS news]

By Nigel Davis

LONDON (ICIS news)--The chemicals sector faces “total re-invention” as the UK moves towards a low carbon economy, Britain’s Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson is due to say on Thursday.

Speaking to industry executives at the Chemical Industry Association’s (CIA’s) annual dinner in London, Mandelson will outline government support for innovation and skills and for the “de-carbonising” of industrial chemistry.

The government expects chemicals to remain a tough business as the global economy recovers from recession as it competes with producers in industrialising economies and faces the challenges of tougher carbon control.

The industry has lost 10% of its workforce in the current crisis and does not expect to return to pre-recession levels of output until at least 2012, according to the CIA.

“As we search for those infamous ‘green shoots of recovery,’ we have an opportunity to change how the UK encourages manufacturing and return it to the heart of our economy,” CIA chief executive Steve Elliott says in a blueprint for UK manufacturing published by the association to coincide with its major annual gathering.

The CIA is seeking wider recognition of the role of chemicals and pharmaceuticals in an advanced manufacturing economy and a “joined-up” approach from government and other agencies to support UK manufacturing.

The UK urgently needs a more competitive tax regime to incentivise research, development and manufacturing, it says.

It has called for a new emphasis on education for science, a wider recognition of technical skills and an “appropriate” regulatory regime focused on outcomes and not processes.

“We urge support for our sector’s role in delivering a low-carbon economy. Central to this will be a challenging but pragmatic and simplified system of incentives. This must give clear signals to business while still preserving the competitive position of UK industry,” it says.

Government commitment to equipping industry to enable the UK to become a world leader in low-carbon includes ensuring secure, competitively priced energy supplies, according to the Businesses Secretary.

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