Belfast Telegraph

New export strategy to target 'cash-rich' Gulf states

By Margaret Canning

The "cash-rich" countries of the Gulf are in the sights of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) as it goes for an ambitious export target in its economic strategy.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster urged companies to make the most of opportunities around the world as she launched the final economic strategy.

She said Invest NI had already boosted its presence in the UK, Canada, Russia, Latin America and South Africa, and would also hold around 60 trade missions to the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

"We will also continue to monitor and target opportunities in other emerging markets including focusing on the cash-rich countries of the Gulf," the minister added.

The strategy contains targets such as increasing the value of manufacturing exports to emerging economies by 60% by 2014/15.

So far this year a series of Northern Ireland firms have announced export deals to Mongolia, the Netherlands and Hong Kong.

The department said consultation on the strategy elicited 100 responses, many focusing on export growth.

The minister said: "It is important to note that many parts of the global economy are growing and we must work to build trading relationships and secure new orders in these markets."

She added: "All of this activity is designed to help us identify new sources of investment and opportunities."

Access to finance and bank lending was "vital to economic recovery".

The minister said the growth loan fund, which will lend between £50,000 and £500,000 in the next five years to businesses with growth projects in certain sectors, and the £16m co-investment equity fund for smaller businesses, would help companies grow and meet targets for the Programme for Government.

The CBI praised the strategy's "stronger focus on the economy".

Chairman Ian Coulter said: "Our call for more ambition has been heeded, resulting in a much better package all round that looks set to support job creation and growth in a way that the earlier drafts failed to do."

Mr Coulter also welcomed a fresh commitment to reviewing employment regulation.