Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Trade missions are vital for our economy

Uup leader Mike Nesbitt says he sees little point in trade missions to America, the Middle East or India, demanding that the Executive and its agencies concentrate solely on "indigenous business".

Either he doesn't understand the dynamics of growing our economy, or he's simply determined to take cheap pot shots at Invest NI.

We certainly need to provide the best conditions to encourage home-grown companies to launch and expand. However, realistically, new start-ups will only ever be part of the picture.

We sorely need investment from abroad and that's one of the reasons why trade missions - organised by Invest NI - are vital.

Not only do foreign firms bring in the jobs we need to rebalance the economy, but they provide a vital lifeline to local businesses which enjoy a huge multiplier effect in terms of sub-contracted work and other benefits.

We always need to focus on the best means to create jobs and growth, as well as keeping an eye on the broader economic picture.

By all means we should look at how Invest NI can work better for local companies. But to suggest, as Mr Nesbitt does, that we shouldn't bother attempting to attract new foreign investment or increase exports, is nonsense.

IRWIN ARMSTRONG

Chairman, NI Conservatives

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