The level of foreign investment and interest in Northern Ireland has not been diminished by Brexit, economic development agency Invest NI has said.
Donal Durkan, executive director of strategy at Invest NI, told the Economy Committee on Wednesday companies come to Northern Ireland for services in addition to their main office function.
“Businesses don’t come here for access to the EU or Great Britain market so that level of investment and interest has not disappeared due to Brexit,” he added.
But Sinn Fein MLA John O’Dowd said there was a need for increasing foreign direct investment outside of Belfast.
He listed Londonderry and Newry as potential locations as well as Craigavon, Portadown and Lurgan, which he said were along the railway line and already had good road infrastructure.
In response Mr Durkan said that Invest NI promotes Northern Ireland as a location but not “individual elements of it”.
He added: “Two-thirds of investment and jobs are outside Belfast.”
It comes just a day after it was revealed that Belfast had fallen down the rankings of European cities in a report on preferred investment destinations.
FDI Intelligence, a specialist division within the Financial Times, produces analysis measuring the strength of cities in attracting foreign direct investment.
Belfast was recognised as the second best city in the world in the December 2018 report but has fallen to 14th, behind cities such as London, Paris and New York.
Invest NI also revealed that 38% of support requests from businesses about Brexit are concerning customers, tariffs and taxation.
People movement and immigration was second on the list with 23% of all requests, followed by strategic sourcing (14%), transport and logistics (11%), and regulations and standards (8%).
Business capability advice accounted for 4% of support requests while financial and currency management made up 1%.