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Kent firms say confidence is rising as economy grows at fastest rate since 2007, with GDP up 0.7% in last quarter of 2013

28 January 2014
by Chris Price

Manufacturing is leading the economy's growth, like workers in the fudge-making warehouse opened by Kent-firm Fudge Kitchen in Aylesham

Manufacturing is leading the economy's growth, like workers in the fudge-making warehouse opened by Kent-firm Fudge Kitchen in Aylesham

Businesses across the county say confidence is rising after news the economy has grown at its fastest rate since 2007.

GDP grew by 0.7% for the last quarter of 2013, bringing the annual growth rate to 1.9%, according to the Office for National Statistics.

That final quarter growth is down slightly from 0.8% the previous quarter.

Economic output is still 1.3% below its 2008 first quarter level.

However, the figures show growth over the last four quarters is now 2.8%, its fastest rate for five years.

“There are clear signs of rising confidence in the business community and our corporate, commercial and property teams are experiencing a steady stream of new work from businesses looking to grow,” said Gavin Tyler, managing partner of Cripps Harries Hall.

Kent’s largest law firm, has offices in Tunbridge Wells, Kings Hill and the Discovery Park Enterprise Zone near Sandwich, as well as in London.

He said: “I am also expecting to see further improvements in access to bank finance, although that may be constrained by the regulations banks are required to follow in order to manage their exposure to risk.”

Manufacturing grew fastest across the UK at 0.9%, while services grew by 0.8%.

Construction was down 0.3% on the quarter but is up 4.5% on the year.

Experts believe that exports could be the key to maintaining the levels of growth.

UK Trade & Investment South East’s regional director Lewis Scott said: “The South East of England continues to be the largest exporting region in the country.

“However if the economy is going to continue to grow, we need to continue to grow UK exports.

“For the first nine months of 2013 our exports totalled £33.4 billion worth of goods, but we need to do much better. In particular, we need to energise our mid-sized businesses. It is significant that only 17% export outside the EU.

“To generate on-going growth in the economy we need to hitch our wagons to the high growth economies in Asia, Latin America and Africa.”

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