Belfast Telegraph

Fears are raised over slump in exports by NI firms

By Lesley Houston

Northern Ireland businesses are not exporting as much this year as they were last year, the Chamber of Commerce has warned.

Ann McGregor, chief executive of the Northern Ireland branch of the industry body, made the observation following a call for British enterprises to invest and export more to maintain the current level of growth.

Britain's Chambers of Commerce (BCC) yesterday warned more had to be done to prevent the past positive trend from becoming a flash in the pan.

The body upgraded its overall growth forecast from 3.1% to 3.2% this year, and from 2.7% to 2.8% for next year, but it also more than halved its prediction on export growth in goods and services to 0.8% this year.

The upgrade to the BCC's GDP forecasts is due to a stronger labour market but, with interest rates due to rise from early next year, the lobby group is predicting a slight slowdown in the pace of the trend from 2015.

From a Northern Ireland perspective, Ms McGregor said last year was better for overseas business deals.

"2013 was a better year for Northern Ireland exports, but our concern is that fewer businesses here seem to be exporting in 2014," she added.

"The export environment has been really challenging for local businesses and the weakness in the EU economy."

She added, however, that the NI Chamber was hopeful of an exports recovery in 2015, "particularly given the great inward investment announcements made recently".

Belfast Telegraph