THE latest manufacturing sales and exports figures for 1999/2000 show that around £20 million worth of manufactured goods were sold outside NI every day - a rise of some 8 per cent in total sales over the previous year.

Overall products worth just over £10 billion were sold by Northern Ireland manufacturing companies during 1999 to 2000, of this almost three quarters, £7.4 billion worth of products, were sold outside the region.

THE Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment Sir Reg Empey said: “There have been strong performances by Northern Ireland manufacturing companies across all markets. Over the last eight years the share of sales accounted for by markets outside Northern Ireland has increased steadily.

"Exports, that is to say, sales outside the UK, also continue to expand. We have seen a rise of some 14 per cent in the last year, demonstrating the benefits to be gained from greater penetration of export markets by local firms.”

However, Sir Reg sounded a note of caution about the figures as most of the growth in sales outside the UK exports market has been driven by a small number of large Northern Ireland firms.

He said that these firms in the transport, electrical and optical equipment, together with food, drink and tobacco sectors were to be congratulated as examples for others to follow. (SP)

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