Belfast Telegraph

Advisory group to track our global competitiveness

By Margaret Canning

The Economic Advisory Group (EAG) is developing a measure to track Northern Ireland's international competitiveness.

EAG chairwoman Kate Barker spoke after a meeting with Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster updating her on its activities in the last six months.

She said the group, made up of nine business people and economists, set up by the minister to provide independent advice, backed the Executive's economic strategy but said it must be put into action.

EAG would begin to assess Northern Ireland's economic competitiveness on the world stage, Ms Barker said.

"In the economic strategy document, there is a commitment to measure the level of competitiveness in the Northern Ireland economy. There is, however, no comprehensive measure of competitiveness currently in place," she added.

"The EAG is therefore developing such a measure. This will allow the Executive to track the progress of its overall target of improving Northern Ireland's competitiveness.

"We have already begun this important work and will be providing the minister with our initial assessment in the autumn of this year."

Ms Barker, a former member of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee, said EAG wanted to influence the strategic direction of policy on the economy. She said access to finance was a crucial issue for business.

"This is a strong message which we have received from the minister and from the economic stakeholders we met in November," she added.

"We therefore intend to carry out analysis which will detail the funds, programmes and support available to businesses and try to identify gaps and make recommendations which may improve the current situation."

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