11/06/2002

Good year for NI manufacturing sales and exports

Sales of manufactured goods at home and abroad for 2000/01 have totalled nearly £11 billion, an increase of £849 million over the previous year.

Data collected from the Annual Sales and Export Survey, carried out by the Northern Ireland Economic Research Centre (NIERC) on behalf of DETI and Invest NI, shows that an increase of 9.6% in sales to markets outside Northern Ireland is one of the main reasons for this rise.

Not surprisingly, the Republic of Ireland represented the most important export market, with total sales of £967 million.

Sales to external markets, outside Northern Ireland, accounted for £7.9 billion, of which £3.8 billion went to Great Britain and £4.2 billion was exported around the world.

Sir Reg Empey Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, said: “This means that three-quarters of sales by our manufacturing companies were to destinations outside Northern Ireland.

“Overall our largest single market remains Great Britain. However, in export terms, as in previous years, significant markets continue to be the Republic of Ireland, USA, Asia, Canada and the Netherlands.

“It is important to note that while the overall Northern Ireland sales and export figures are very encouraging, we remain very reliant on certain sectors which more recently have been experiencing some difficulty. For example, the electrical and optical equipment sector saw an increase of 36% in sales in the year to 2000/01 and it is unlikely this will be sustained in the next year.”

The figures collected for the manufacturing sector are indicative of a worldwide trend.

Since 2000/01 economies throughout the world, including Northern Ireland, have had to cope with tightening markets, and the shockwaves of world events.

Urging local companies toward continued success the Minister said: “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 becoming a modern and successful Northern Ireland economy.”

(AMcE)

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