30/04/2004

NI economic growth second largest in 2002

Northern Ireland's economic growth was second to only the south west of England during 2002, it was revealed today.

According to figures from Office of National Statistics Northern Ireland’s annual growth rate of 5.6% during the year was above the UK average of 5.1%.

Enterprise Trade and Investment Minister, Barry Gardiner, welcomed the figures. He said: "A growth rate of 5.6% is very encouraging news for Northern Ireland. Despite a difficult period in the global market, our economy continued to grow in 2002. The current low levels of unemployment and continuing jobs growth shows that the economy continues to perform well.

“But we need to build on this. Northern Ireland companies need to add greater value to their products. They need to be innovative, exploiting cutting edge research in our universities commercially if our economy is to continue to grow.”

Northern Ireland, however, continued to have the smallest share of the total UK economy with just 2.3% of the total compared to 16.4% for the South East.

(MB)

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