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Planned corporation tax cut attracting overseas money, says Invest NI head

Published 23/11/2016

Latest news from Northern Ireland
Latest news from Northern Ireland

The planned cut in corporation tax has generated a strong interest from overseas investors, according to the head of Invest Northern Ireland (NI).

Alastair Hamilton said t he move to reduce the rate from the UK-wide 20% to 12.5% in 2018 had boosted the region's attractiveness.

He also played down the effect of global uncertainty, adding that arrangements in Northern Ireland were "future-proofed".

Mr Hamilton said: "We have got that rate and date and that is a critical piece for us to get out there and sell it."

Executive ministers intend to cut the corporation rate from the UK-wide 20% to 12.5% in 2018 after securing the devolution of tax setting power from Westminster.

The rationale was to give Northern Ireland a competitive advantage when it came to attracting foreign direct investment. The rate is due to come into line with the 12.5% currently in operation in the Republic of Ireland.

However, since the agreement to devolve corporation tax powers, there have been reports the UK Government could respond to a hard Brexit by reducing the nationwide rate to as low as 10%.

President-elect Donald Trump is also set to lower the rate in the US.

In evidence to the economy scrutiny committee, Mr Hamilton added : "We have been very proactive.

"Our foot is not off the pedal irrespective of what is happening in the wider global environment. We are out there at the present moment in time.

"We attended a major tax conference on the west coast of the United States; presented our tax proposition and out of that there is a lot of interest in what we are doing.

"The UK is still a very large market for companies internationally and therefore even on a UK trading basis it makes sense for some of those firms to be here and to have an operation that serves the UK market."

Meanwhile, MLAs were also told of the "strong performance" over the past five years with £3 billion worth of job-related investment - £590 million of which was in research and development.

Some 87 new international investors have also set up shop in Northern Ireland and it is the only UK region to experience growth in exports over the past year.

Committee chairman Conor Murphy described the figures as "impressive".

It was also revealed that Invest NI plans to expand its trade presence to 10 new locations such as Australia, Asia and South America.

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