UK exporters and investors received increased government support, with a 43% increase in new guarantees during the 1999-2000 financial year.

The Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) released figures this week that showed it provided £4.7bn worth of new guarantees for UK capital goods exporters last year, up from £3.3bn the year before.

The department also insured £797m worth of overseas investments by UK companies, up from £561m.

Trade minister Richard Caborn said this was the ECGD's best year since it was privatised in 1991.