The modern British economy has always been heavily dependent on trade with the outside world. In the early 1950s the UK was exporting some 20 per cent of Gross National Product and this proportion has increased over time, so that by the early 1980s it was up to 27 per cent. 1 Imports accounted for similar amounts. International capital movements into and out of the country have also been significant. However, while the external account has remained of crucial importance to the UK, on trend the UK's importance in the world has declined sharply. The country's share of world exports of manufactures fell from around 25 per cent in 1950, to 14 per cent in 1964, to under 10 per cent in 1979 and, down again, to below 8 per cent in 1985. 2 Naturally, the UK's diminished economic importance on the global scene was accompanied by a commensurate political demise.