16/12/2004

NI economy continues to grow shows – business survey

Figures released today show a continuing growth in the Northern Ireland economy, with income from businesses having increased by 4.5% or some £568 million in 2003, compared to 2002.

The figures are contained in the provisional results of the 2003 Northern Ireland Annual Business Inquiry (NIABI), published today. The NIABI provides the first estimates, for 2003, of the level of mainly business based economic activity across some two-thirds of the Northern Ireland economy.

Welcoming the figures, Enterprise Minister Barry Gardiner said: “In 2003, the value of Northern Ireland business income, after payment for goods and services, increased to some £13.1 billion, in the face of strong downward pressures internationally.

“While we have not been immune to such pressures, it is encouraging to note that the Northern Ireland economy has been able to maintain progress in such difficult conditions.”

The sectors experiencing the highest levels of growth over the period 2002 to 2003, include the wholesale and retail sector with Gross Value Added (GVA) estimated to have increased by approximately 11.7%.

The manufacture of electrical and optical equipment was also estimated to have increased its value of GVA by 28.7% over the year. In contrast, the manufacture of transport equipment sector saw a decline in GVA of 28.8%.

Much of the net annual increase occurred in the service sector, where GVA in 2003 increased by £342 million to £7.3 billion, over half of the total GVA in Northern Ireland.

(MB)

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