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We must learn from other nations' success: Foster

Northern Ireland should learn from economies like Finland and Sweden, it has been claimed.

The Enterprise Minister said the country's economic strategy could look to successes in other small, open economies.

Arlene Foster made the comments as she launched the results of the completed projects from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment Research Agenda 2008-2011.

She said: "This research highlights that small economies, many of which have faced similar challenges to those in Northern Ireland, can achieve economic success and significantly increase their living standards.

"While it is clear there is no quick fix, the research highlights a range of policy approaches which could potentially benefit the local economy. It is also encouraging that the findings support the draft framework outlined in the consultation document for a new economic strategy.

"Sustained investment in research and development and innovation has been central to success in economies such as Finland and Sweden. As Northern Ireland continues to move towards the creation of a knowledge-based economy, there are lessons we can learn from the approach taken in these countries."

The minister also highlighted Singapore, which has benefited from inward investment, supported by investment in skills and infrastructure and low corporation tax.

The research agenda examines drivers of economic success as well as export performance, supporting domestic companies and developing a more private sector-led economy.

The minister said the study was vital in developing economic policy.

"Research plays a key role in ensuring that economic policy development is supported by a strong evidence base," she said.

"These projects, in particular, provide an invaluable assessment of best practice elsewhere and ensure that we are outward-looking in our approach to economic policy. The outco)me of this research will be vital in supporting the development of a new economic strategy for Northern Ireland."