Weakening euro raises serious concern for Northern Ireland's exports
Northern Ireland's economic growth has been healthy in the first quarter of 2015 but there are concerns about manufacturing exports, research has shown.
The Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry's quarterly survey said the balance of firms here were reporting increases in sales, exports and employment for January to March.
But stagnation in the eurozone was impacting on exports for those manufacturing firms surveyed, lending some unevenness to recovery.
A weakening euro has hit manufacturing hard in Northern Ireland - with the bulk of our exports going to the Republic and the rest of the eurozone.
Fears over manufacturing exports in Northern Ireland were amplified in Britain, where exchange rates were cited as the biggest issue facing business nationally.
But instead, competition was the biggest fear among Northern Ireland firms surveyed by the Chamber whose chief executive Ann McGregor said: "Whilst the Northern Ireland economy shows signs of strengthening, the latest figures are a reminder that the path to sustainable, long-term growth is uneven and challenging.
"Unless support for exports and business investment is placed at the heart of any future government, consumption and government spending will continue to drive an economic recovery that is unbalanced and unsustainable."
She said legislation for the devolution of corporation tax to Northern Ireland would help business growth in the future. "We now need all of Northern Ireland's political parties to set a 'rate and date' for the implementation of the new corporation tax rate."
Interest rates were no longer viewed as a big concern, with the Bank of England's recent decision to keep rates at their record 0.5% calming any incipient fears. And close to 70% of Northern Ireland businesses surveyed said they were not in favour of a withdrawal by Britain from the EU - though most said they would like to see some powers transferred back to Westminster.