30/06/2003

Minister ‘encouraged’ by NI manufacturing figures

The sale of locally manufactured goods in markets outside NI in 2001/02 totalled £7.2 billion, an increase of £18 million (0.2%) on the corresponding period last year, according to the annual Manufacturing Sales and Export Survey, carried out by the Northern Ireland Economic Research Centre (NIERC) on behalf of DETI and Invest NI.

Commenting on figures, NIO Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Ian Pearson MP, said: “It is encouraging to note that sales to external markets by manufacturing businesses in Northern Ireland have remained fairly stable over the year, despite difficult trading conditions.”

The Minister said: "The total value of sales made by Northern Ireland manufacturing businesses in 2001/02 were worth £10,304 million, of which some 70% (£7,220 million) were sold to external markets, reflecting the importance of this sector to the Northern Ireland economy. 44% of external sales, worth £3,168 million, go to Great Britain and 56%, worth £4,051 million, were exported round the world. Although there has been a decrease in total sales, due to a reduction in sales in Northern Ireland and, to a lesser extent, in exports, it is encouraging to note sales to Great Britain have increased.”

However, though revised figures for the year 2000 to 2001 indicated that sales outside NI had increased by £18 million (0.2%), the 2001/02 survey revealed that total sales by local manufacturing businesses in 2001/02 were estimated to have decreased by £135 million (-1.3%) to £10.3 billion.

Exports to the Republic of Ireland increased by 10.7% (£103 million) over the year, although there was an overall decrease of exports (sales outside the United Kingdom) of -0.7% (£29 million) to just over £4 billion, compared to the previous year. Sales to Great Britain increased by 1.5% (£45 million) over the period, while sales within Northern Ireland decreased by 4.7% (£152 million).

Mr Pearson said that while Great Britain remained NI’s largest single market, significant markets were the Republic of Ireland, North America, Asia and the Netherlands. Exports to the republic of Ireland rose by almost 11% over the year to stand at an estimated £1.07 billion.

“If we are to maintain our position, then there is an even greater imperative on us to find new ways of gaining the competitive edge on our rivals, through innovation, new products and new markets, as we continue to work towards developing a more modern and successful Northern Ireland economy,” the Minister added.

(SP)

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