The UK's machine tool sector is celebrating a 20-year record trade surplus.
Figures just published by the Manufacturing Technologies Association showed exports of metal working machine tools were worth £438 million, an increase of nine per cent on 2004.
Imports rose by 6.1 per cent to £404 million, giving a trade surplus for 2005 of £34 million, the highest since 1982.
And the run of three consecutive trade surpluses from 2003-05 is the longest since 1980-83.
The growth in exports was generated by trade with the European Union, with deliveries surging 21.2 per cent compared to 2004. That was despite tough conditions for UK exporters in general in trying to sell to the Continent.
Although exports to the rest of the world were 1.8 per cent lower, there were still some countries with significant growth, led by China (+43.6 per cent) and India (+54.1 per cent).
In contrast, import growth was generated from outside Europe, with arrivals from the EU slightly lower than in 2004 - down one per cent. Outside Europe, increases in imports were led by Japan (+26.6 per cent) and Taiwan (+53 per cent).