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Northern Ireland foreign direct investment level declining faster than anywhere in UK

By John Mulgrew

The volume of big foreign investment in Northern Ireland is declining faster than anywhere else in the UK, fresh figures have shown.

Northern Ireland had only 15 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects in 2015, fewer half of the 39 it secured a year earlier, according to EY.

Scotland saw a 50% increase to 119 projects, while Wales had 41 FDI projects.

The latest figures come despite claims from Invest NI that outside London, Northern Ireland is the “leading UK region for attracting inward investment”.

But like the rest of the UK it has had to deal with EU changes to regional aid. From July 2014, new rules began to apply to companies with more than 250 staff already based in Northern Ireland.

That means they may not get public money towards expansion projects if it involves the same activities at the same premises.

This success has been across a range of knowledge intensive sectors. In particular Belfast is the world’s top destination city for financial services technologies investments.

Northern Ireland boasts world-class clusters in a variety of sectors. There has been recent growth in areas such as software development, financial services and legal outsourcing.

The South East of England recorded a fall of 22%, but Northern Ireland saw an even bigger decline, with project numbers falling by 62% and just 15 projects secured in 2015.

That contrasts with a surge in overall activity right across the UK.

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