30/10/2001

Latest report shows NI economy is holding up

Despite the impact of the global slowdown and the aftermath of 11 September, Northern Ireland remains one of the UK’s better performing regions, according to business advisors PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

PwC’s latest UK Economic Outlook and Regional Trends survey published on Monday, October 29, shows that although Northern Ireland’s economic growth has slowed, the province has been hit less hard than some other regions. This is sharp contrast with Wales and the South East, where growth has virtually ceased and the NorthEast, East and West Midlands, where growth is described as sluggish.

PwC managing partner, Stephen Kingon said: “Recent redundancies at Bombardier and Nortel have been a blow to the local economy but, compared to other UK regions, we are continuing to perform relatively well.

“Northern Ireland’s relatively larger public sector provides a buffer against the worst impacts of the global economic crisis, but we must not become complacent. There are difficult and challenging times ahead and the local business community needs to be prepared.”

In its latest survey PwC states that the full economic impact of the terrorist attacks on the US and their aftermath are difficult to assess at this time. However, initial estimates suggest that, unless global conditions deteriorate dramatically, the UK economy as a whole should avoid recession over the next year, with growth averaging around 2 per cent in 2002.

Mr Kingon said that Northern Ireland’s manufacturing sector had performed relatively well, but warned that manufacturing had to invest in innovation and marketing to ensure that the sector remained competitive.

Commenting on the political events in Northern Ireland Mr Kingon reiterated that the business community recognised the importance of political stability as a prerequisite to economic development and growth. He concluded: “The Assembly has been of demonstrable benefit the community, to business confidence and to the favourable perception of Northern Ireland abroad. I hope that the recent announcements and the events of the past week will assist in maintaining the political process.” (AMcE)

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