Belfast Telegraph

Westminster in vow to keep pushing Northern Ireland firms as exports continue their upward trend

BY JOHN MULGREW

A minister has said Westminster will "continue to drive exports and promote" Northern Ireland's strengths at attracting investment and job creation.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox was speaking ahead of an export showcase at Titanic Belfast today, which will feature 150 firms from across various sectors.

The Department for International Trade will be one of those attending the event today.

"We know there is a wealth of export opportunities out there and as an international economic department we are determined to help Northern Ireland businesses seize these and make their mark on the global market," Mr Fox said.

"As we look to build a truly global United Kingdom, we will continue to drive exports and promote the strengths of Northern Ireland, attracting inward investment and creating jobs and security across the region."

Businesses from across food and drink, manufacturing, education, technology and professional services, will be in attendance. The event aims to inspire first time and early exporters to consider selling their goods and services outside Northern Ireland or to grow existing exports.

According to Invest NI: "Explore Export 2017 provides a unique opportunity for businesses to take advantage of the collective insight and knowledge of highly experienced international trade specialists helping you to enter new markets with confidence."

The department says it has worked with hundreds of firms here, in order to help grow and expand exports and sales.

That includes Enniskillen firm Elite Electronic Systems.

The department said it worked with the company, and helped to organise its attendance at two events in Geneva, at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) - home of the Large Hadron Collider.

As a result, the firm landed contract wins at CERN, worth around £1.4m in sales over the next five years.

Last year the Department for International Trade said it "helped or provided advice to more than 600 companies in NI, developing global business through overseas and UK based events, webinars and website business opportunities".

It comes as the latest figures show Northern Ireland's exports are on the rise.

The figures from HMRC show that exports to the Republic rose by 12.5% during the first quarter of the year compared to the same period a year earlier.

Overall, exports to the US saw the biggest jump - rising by 16.4%. It represented £1.7bn of trade.

Exports to Germany rose by 9.1%, while sales of goods and services to France fell by 3%.

An increase in exports has also been reflected in the latest purchasing managers' index (PMI) with Ulster Bank for May.

The report said that the "rate of growth in new export orders also accelerate... firms again linked improving new export business to sterling weakness".

According to Richard Ramsey, Ulster Bank chief economist, orders outside of Northern Ireland have picked up.

"Business activity expanded, as it has expanded in each of the last eight months, but the rate of expansion remained below the average rate that prevailed before the downturn," he said.

"New orders though picked up, with demand strongest from export markets. Indeed, order books from export markets have been expanding at a faster rate than the pre-downturn long-term average in each of the last eight months.

"The exchange rate has been a factor behind Northern Ireland's strong export performance since last autumn. But sterling weakness has also pushed up input costs alongside the price of goods and services.

"Last month, firms reported an easing in inflationary pressures, with input and output price inflation slipping to five- and six-month lows respectively."

Belfast Telegraph

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