Barclays has underlined its long-term commitment to UK manufacturing by announcing £500 million of lending to support growing businesses within the sector.
Barclays predicts that the UK manufacturing sector will grow by up to two per cent in 2005 driven by gradual improvements in order books and the ability of many UK manufacturers to remain competitive on the global stage, through increasing levels of research and development and improved technology and innovation.
The bank's lending to manufacturing businesses is expected to cover pharmaceuticals, chemicals, aerospace, biotechnology, electronics, automotive, food production and medical equipment.
Andy Martin, national director for manufacturing at Barclays, said: "A strong manufacturing sector is good for the health of the UK and a determinant of its position in the global economy.
"Working on a daily basis with many UK manufacturers, I see a large number of well-managed companies which have both the desire and the ability to expand and grow if the right finance is available.
"I believe that many UK manufacturers are responding positively and proactively to the challenges they have faced in recent years such as rising raw material and energy costs, the strength of sterling against the dollar and the emergence of Asian competitors."
Sir Digby Jones, director general of the CBI, said: "If the UK's manufacturing base is to grow then we need the support of banks like Barclays."