The UK is a member of the G8 group of the world's leading industrial nations. Engineering (especially of military products), chemicals, electronics, construction and textiles are the main components of the industrial sector. Among service industries, tourism, media, retail, financial services, telecommunications and computer services are the most important and have undergone rapid growth, while heavy industries have suffered relative decline. Unemployment in 2006 stood at 2.8%.
The UK's external economic relations are now dominated by the EU (which accounts for 70% of all UK trade), and the overriding issue facing the government is the extent to which they are willing to integrate into the European economy.
The argument is now focused on whether Britain should adopt the Euro. Many political and business leaders favour membership, but there is huge opposition in the country at large. The conclusion of the debate may be decisive to Britain's economic future.