NI businesses report over 6% growth in 2004

Figures released today show continuing growth in the Northern Ireland economy, with business sales up by £2.5 billion to £45.2 billion in 2004.

The figures are contained in the provisional results of the 2004 Northern Ireland Annual Business Inquiry (NIABI), published today. The NIABI provides the first estimates for 2004 of the level of business based economic activity across most of Northern Ireland's private sector.

The results include estimates of the value of income generated by businesses after payment for goods and services (approximate Gross Value Added (GVA)), the total value of sales (turnover) and other financial information.

Welcoming the figures, Enterprise Minister Angela Smith said: "The value of Northern Ireland business GVA was £13.6 billion in 2004, an increase of some 6.4% over the year. This is a strong performance and shows the potential the private sector has to grow the Northern Ireland economy, despite frequently difficult trading conditions."

Much of the net annual increase occurred in the service sector where GVA in 2004 increased by £761 million to £7.8 billion, over half of the total business GVA in Northern Ireland. The NIABI indicated that the sectors experiencing the highest levels of growth over the period 2003 to 2004 include the wholesale and retail sector with GVA estimated to have increased by £284 million (9.0%). The next largest service sector contribution occurred in the business services sector which gained £276 million in GVA over the period.

The Minister said: "Much of the annual increase is due to gains in the service sector where the value added by businesses increased by 10.8% over the year to £7.8 billion in 2004.

"It is particularly encouraging to note that the business services sector GVA grew by 17.3% or £276 million over the year and was worth £1.9 billion in 2004. Growing our wealth creating capacity in this sector is essential if Northern Ireland is to achieve the transformation into a truly competitive economy."

The manufacturing sector also continues to play an important role in the Northern Ireland economy and it was estimated to be worth £3.8 billion or 27.9% of total GVA in 2004, up approximately 3.0% (£110 million) compared to the previous year.

The survey includes most of the Production, Construction, Distribution and Service sectors, while largely excluding public sector activities.


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