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RON DAVIES LAUNCHES A REALISTIC VISION FOR THE FUTURE PROSPERITY OF WALES

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Wales has taken the first steps towards a greater role within the UK, Europe and the wider world, Welsh secretary R...
Wales has taken the first steps towards a greater role within the UK, Europe and the wider world, Welsh secretary Ron Davies said at the launch of 'Pathway to Prosperity - A New Economic Agenda for Wales' yesterday.

'For the first time Wales has the ability to direct its own economic future for the benefit of all,' said Mr Davies.

'This document is both a vision and a reality. The vision will drive Wales forward into the next century, fuelled by a coherent and realistic approach.

'We have built on our strengths, attacked our weaknesses and ensured no one is excluded from the future prosperity within our grasp. This document is all about what we can do and must do to take Wales along the Pathway to Prosperity.

'The economy of Wales is inextricably linked to events and actions elsewhere in the UK and the world. In this agenda, we have focused specifically on those powers and policies with which we can shape the future of our economy.

'The lesson of this agenda is that it is possible to build a regional economic policy that can make a real difference.'

The agenda contains:

- a coherent approach to indigenous and inward investment spearheaded by the new Welsh Development Agency

- a revitalised Business Connect to encourage the prosperity of small and medium-sized businesses - the backbone of the Welsh economy

- the development of an Entrepreneurship Action Plan to support the latent talent evident within Wales

- a Rural Partnership to address the potential threat from the review of EU Common Agricultural Policy to rural Wales

- measures to tackle social exclusion and equal opportunities

- approaches to continuing learning and training throughout a lifetime to ensure a highly-skilled workforce

'We strongly endorse in this document the principles of partnership informing progress towards the national assembly. Partnerships between local government, central government and the economic agencies are the lifeblood of this agenda.

'The major challenges for Wales are to raise GDP per head, raise average earnings, to increase employment and skills levels. This document does not just identify the problems, but provides the solutions.

'The agenda is a rallying call to help transform Wales into the world class economy we need, to generate prosperity for the many and not just the few.'

- The agenda was drawn up following a major consultation exercise, commenced in October 1997, in which over 140 organisations and individuals provided a written response.

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