Belfast Telegraph

Chamber urges Executive to help boost export activity

The Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce has called on the Executive to renew its focus on supporting export activity following a series of reports into the state of the economy.

Chamber president Francis Martin was speaking after the publication of the annual manufacturing, sales and export figures which showed a year-on-year decline of 8.5% in manufacturing exports and quarterly unemployment figures which showed an increase over the last quarter to 7.6%.

"We still must do more to ensure private sector growth," he said

"Tougher trading conditions in the Republic and a weaker euro have made these two markets more difficult for our exporters," warned the Chamber president.

"The Northern Ireland Executive must work with the UK Treasury to ensure that any decrease in corporation tax introduced is also accompanied by measures to support exporters in their existing activity and develop new export markets

"Small open economies like Northern Ireland rely on a solid export base to ensure sustainable growth," said Mr Martin.

"Increased exports means higher revenue levels and more jobs."

Last week it emerged that exports by Northern Ireland companies to Europe and the Republic had fallen by over 8%.

The government report on manufacturing survey for April 2009 to April this year revealed that small businesses bore the brunt of the downturn in exports and have faced a 22% fall in sales.

Medium-sized firms had to confront an 8% fall in export orders while orders for big businesses have dropped by 11%.

Total sales, both exports and internal sales, were estimated to be worth £15.7bn, a fall of 0.4% on the previous year's figure.