16/06/2006

NI economy continues to perform well

A report published today has shown that the Northern Ireland economy continues to perform well.

The Northern Ireland labour market is currently benefiting from historically high levels of employment and continuing low unemployment, and the latest figures show that annual economic growth is above the UK average.

The report, which is the second edition of the Northern Ireland Economic Bulletin publication, brings together a range of research findings and commentary on economic issues facing Northern Ireland

Commenting on the publication, Enterprise Minister Maria Eagle said: “In the context of an increasingly competitive global economy, DETI’s Economic Bulletin highlights the importance of the Northern Ireland economy competing on quality and value added. Our export performance shows we can compete effectively on the world stage and it is vital that we continue to build on our strengths.

"Increased export intensity requires greater emphasis on Research and Development and Innovation and I very much welcome the reported increase in innovation activity by Northern Ireland businesses. Employment growth needs to come from those sectors that have high export potential.”

She said: “There are however significant challenges still facing the Northern Ireland economy in terms of overcoming the persistent productivity gap and the over reliance on the public sector. As outlined in the Economic Vision we must not only seek to encourage higher levels of economic activity by growing private sector employment but ensure that such jobs are as productive as possible.

"In my new role as Minister for Enterprise Trade and Investment I will seek to ensure that Northern Ireland has the innovation, enterprise, skills and infrastructure to enable us to compete globally. This is also a time of tremendous opportunity for Northern Ireland and we must ensure the private sector becomes the engine of economic growth to deliver a more prosperous society for all.”

The Northern Ireland Economic Bulletin covers a range of topics such as the performance of the manufacturing, services and export sectors, recent progress in telecoms, innovation and renewable energy as well as developing entrepreneurship.

(EF/SP)

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