Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland economy is set to grow by just 1%: report

By Margaret Canning

The Northern Ireland economy will experience only weak growth next year - though business services is one sector which could expand, a major report has said.

Northern Bank's quarterly sectoral forecast predicts growth of 1% for the economy next year - well down on its previous forecast of around 2% - and 2.3% for 2013.

Angela McGowan, the bank's chief economist, put the chances of the economy suffering a double-dip recession at 20% and said the risk could increase if the crisis in the eurozone deteriorates.

But she said there were some things which Northern Ireland could do to improve its lot.

"While the global economic environment will undoubtedly impose tough trading conditions on our exporters during this quarter and in early 2012, ongoing efforts to rebalance our economy by increasing enterprise, investment and exports levels should work to strengthen our economic outlook."

The report predicts that the economy could find itself dragged down by a second global recession if the eurozone crisis does not abate. As retailers and the construction sector struggle thanks to tough trading conditions and falling expenditure, the economy is getting more dependent on businesses which can export.

Steady growth is predicted for the transport and communications sector, which is expected to grow at 3.4%. Business services is also predicted to grow at 3% while manufacturing will expand by 2.7%.

The bank said: "Despite the fact the transport and communications sector struggled with growth in recent months, the communications sector in particular remains a vibrant industry at the international level and Northern Ireland has a number of exporters in this sector who continue to do well."

Business services is also a potential growth area despite suffering from cuts in public spending.