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Decline in number of FDI projects with Invest NI backing

By John Mulgrew

The number of foreign investment projects supported by Invest NI has fallen by more than a third in the last year, it can be revealed.

Invest NI has said there were 229 FDI projects supported by the taxpayer-funded organisation in 2015/16.

But that's a significant drop from 332 a year earlier.

The figures were released by Invest NI following an Assembly question from Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt.

In the last five years, project support numbers peaked at their highest level during 2012/13, where there were 368 businesses assisted.

Like the rest of the UK, Northern Ireland has had to deal with EU changes and restrictions to regional aid.

Ulster Unionist economy spokesperson, Steve Aiken MLA, told the Belfast Telegraph the reduction in figures "indicate concerns about Brexit, and uncertainties about the devolution of corporation tax".

"This is coupled with the continuing high price of energy, and concerns about infrastructure and skills," he said.

"Many corporations are delaying making decisions to invest in Northern Ireland due to these uncertainties and the legacy of disinvestment in higher education which has undoubtedly contributed to our local universities dropping in global league tables."

A spokeswoman for Invest NI said: "The decline in total FDI projects in 2015-16 reflects a peak of activity in 2014-15 by existing externally-owned companies that accelerated expansion projects ahead of significant changes in EU state aid rules which particularly impacted existing large international companies."

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