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Bristol Economy and Industry

Two ornate metal pillars with large dishes on top in a paved street, with a eighteenth century stone building behind upon which can be seen the words "Tea Blenders Estabklishec 177-".

As a major seaport, Bristol has a long history of trading commodities, originally wool cloth exports and imports of fish, wine, grain and dairy produce,[100] later tobacco, tropical fruits and plantation goods; major imports now are motor vehicles, grain, timber, fresh produce and petroleum products. Deals were originally struck on a personal basis in the former trading area around The Exchange in Corn Street, and in particular, over bronze trading tables, known as "The Nails". This is often given as the origin of the expression "cash on the nail", meaning immediate payment, however it is likely that the expression was in use before the nails were erected.

As well as Bristol's nautical connections, the city's economy is reliant on the aerospace industry, defence, the media, information technology and financial services sectors, and tourism. The former Ministry of Defence (MoD)'s Procurement Executive, later the Defence Procurement Agency, and now Defence Equipment & Support, moved to a purpose-built headquarters at Abbey Wood, Filton in 1995. The site employs some 7,000 to 8,000 staff and is responsible for procuring and supporting much of the MoD's defence equipment.

In 2004 Bristol's GDP was £9.439 billion, and the combined GDP of Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and North Somerset was £44.098 billion. The GDP per head was £23,962 (US$47,738, €35,124) making the city more affluent than the UK as a whole, at 40% above the national average. This makes it the third-highest per-capita GDP of any English city, after London and Nottingham, and the fifth highest GDP per capita of any city in the United Kingdom, behind London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast and Nottingham. In March 2007, Bristol's unemployment rate was 4.8%, compared with 4.0% for the south west and 5.5% for England.

Although Bristol's economy is no longer reliant upon the Port of Bristol, which was relocated gradually to the mouth of the Avon to new docks at Avonmouth (1870s) and Royal Portbury Dock (1977) as the size of shipping increased, the city is the largest importer of cars to the UK. Since the port was leased in 1991, £330 million has been invested and the annual tonnage throughput has increased from 3.9 million long tons (4 million tonnes) to 11.8 million long tons (12 million tonnes). The tobacco trade and cigarette manufacturing have now ceased, but imports of wines and spirits by Averys continue.

The financial services sector employs 59,000 in the city, and the high-tech sector is important, with 50 micro-electronics and silicon design companies, which employ around 5,000 people, including the Hewlett-Packard national research laboratories, which opened in 1983. Bristol is the UK's seventh most popular destination for foreign tourists, and the city receives nine million visitors each year.

In the 20th century, Bristol's manufacturing activities expanded to include aircraft production at Filton, by the Bristol Aeroplane Company, and aero-engine manufacture by Bristol Aero Engines (later Rolls-Royce) at Patchway. The aeroplane company became famous for the World War I Bristol Fighter, and Second World War Blenheim and Beaufighter aircraft. In the 1950s it became one of the country's major manufacturers of civil aircraft, with the Bristol Freighter and Britannia and the huge Brabazon airliner. The Bristol Aeroplane Company diversified into car manufacturing in the 1940s, producing hand-built luxury cars at their factory in Filton, under the name Bristol Cars, which became independent from the Bristol Aeroplane Company in 1960. The city also gave its name to the Bristol make of buses, manufactured in the city from 1908 to 1983, first by the local bus operating company, Bristol Tramways, and from 1955 by Bristol Commercial Vehicles.

The last ever flight of any Concorde, 26 November 2003. The aircraft is seen a few minutes before landing on the Filton runway from which it first flew in 1969.

In the 1960s Filton played a key role in the Anglo-French Concorde supersonic airliner project. The Bristol Aeroplane Company became part of the British partner, the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC). Concorde components were manufactured in British and French factories and shipped to the two final assembly plants, in Toulouse and Filton. The French manufactured the centre fuselage and centre wing and the British the nose, rear fuselage, fin and wingtips, while the Olympus 593 engine's manufacture was split between Rolls-Royce (Filton) and SNECMA (Paris). The British Concorde prototype made its maiden flight from Filton to RAF Fairford on 9 April 1969, five weeks after the French test flight. In 2003 British Airways and Air France decided to cease flying the aircraft and to retire them to locations (mostly museums) around the world. On 26 November 2003 Concorde 216 made the final Concorde flight, returning to Filton airfield to be kept there permanently as the centrepiece of a projected air museum. This museum will include the existing Bristol Aero Collection, which includes a Bristol Britannia aircraft.

The aerospace industry remains a major segment of the local economy. The major aerospace companies in Bristol now are BAE Systems, (formed by merger between Marconi Electronic Systems and BAe; the latter being formed by a merger of BAC, Hawker Siddeley and Scottish Aviation), Airbus and Rolls-Royce are all based at Filton, and aerospace engineering is a prominent research area at the nearby University of the West of England. Another important aviation company in the city is Cameron Balloons, who manufacture hot air balloon. Each August the city is host to the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, one of Europe's largest hot air balloon events.

A new £500 million shopping centre called Cabot Circus opened in 2008 amidst claims from developers and politicians that Bristol would become one of England's top ten retail destinations. Bristol was selected as one of the world's top ten cities for 2009 by international travel publishers Dorling Kindersley in their Eyewitness series of guides for young adults.

In 2011 it was announced that the Temple Quarter near Bristol Temple Meads railway station will become an enterprise zone.
Sapa voyage
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