Northern Ireland's production sector's hard work has paid off, says economy minister Simon Hamilton
Economy Minister Simon Hamilton has praised the hard work of Northern Ireland manufacturers during a visit to Canyon Europe.
The Newtownabbey company employs nearly 90 people and is the UK's only manufacturer of a plastic trigger sprayer, which is used by pharmaceutical and animal health firms.
It was the first Japanese business to set up in Northern Ireland when it was established here in 1987.
The minister praised the work of manufacturing companies like Canyon Europe during a tour of its factory.
"Manufacturing provides around 11% of all jobs in Northern Ireland and almost 16% of total economic output of the region," he said.
"The sector makes a significant contribution to export levels and research and development, both of which are central to wealth generation.
"I am pleased that in spite of many challenges, our local manufacturing sector has seen its output grow by 2.4% in the last year and that employment in manufacturing firms has grown to approximately 80,000."
Canyon Europe reported pre-tax profits of £7.6m in its latest set of results.
It trades in 50 markets around the world. Along with another in Vietnam, Newtownabbey is one of just two of the company's sites outside Japan.
Mr Hamilton said: "My department's key objectives are to stimulate innovation and research and development, improve the skills of the workforce, and to enable businesses to compete successfully in global markets.
"These are all areas that the manufacturing sector has embraced."
He also claimed that a cut in the rate of corporation tax to 12.5% from 2018 would be "a powerful lever that can stimulate economic prosperity".
But he added that the Government also needed to work with the private sector to create a "highly skilled workforce".