Local businesses which focus on exports can continue to grow in the current economic climate.
Arlene Foster was speaking in Mumbai, where she is participating in an Invest Northern Ireland 24 company-strong trade mission.
Highlighting the key role export markets can play in helping boost the local economy the Minister continued: “The purpose of this visit is to generate export growth and stimulate further investment from the Middle East and India. Reliance on the indigenous market does not offer much potential for growth. This month’s Index of production figures show that businesses that are export oriented increased their output over the year despite the difficult economic circumstances.”
Figures released for the period December 2011- February 2012 show that the Northern Ireland unemployment rate was unchanged over the quarter at 6.8%.
Although output from the Northern Ireland Production sector fell by 0.3% from Q3 2011 to Q4 2011, it increased by 5.3% in 2011 compared to 2010. The UK decreased by 1.3% over the quarter. Output from the Northern Ireland Index of Services for the fourth quarter of 2011 showed that output levels rose by 0.7% over the quarter compared with no change in the UK.
Commenting on the figures, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said: “The Northern Ireland unemployment rate has remained unchanged from the last quarter. Our current unemployment rate of 6.8% compares favourably to the equivalent rates for the UK (8.3%), European Union (10.1%) and Republic of Ireland (14.8%).”
“Production sector output in Northern Ireland fell by 0.3% over the quarter, though this was smaller than the decline of 1.3% for the UK. It is noteworthy though that output in this key sector increased by 5.3% in 2011, compared to 2010, which is an encouraging sign. The Service sector gains in the last quarter of 2011, are also a positive indicator, though demand in 2011 as a whole was lower in the sector than in the previous year.”
Highlighting the key role export markets can play in helping boost the local economy the Minister continued: “Companies therefore need to look further afield for opportunities and that is why growing exports is a key priority in our Programme for Government."
“Businesses that can compete successfully on the world stage can contribute immensely to the local economy, and Invest Northern Ireland are helping companies to focus on the markets that offer greatest potential.”
Further information on the latest labour market figures is available in the Labour Market Statistical Press Release.