Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland exports to Britain plunge by 20% - and sales to Republic rise by 16%

Republic 'remains Northern Ireland's single largest export market'.


Exports from Northern Ireland to Britain fell by 20% last year, while sales to the Republic increased by 16%, new economy data has revealed.

Sales to GB dropped for the first time on record by £2.9bn to £11.3bn in 2017.

The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) said the slump in sales was driven by “a substantial fall in sales” in the manufacturing sub sector of food, beverages and tobacco.

The fall meant the total value of export sales by Northern Ireland firms fell 10.1% last year to £21.4bn, down from last year’s record high of £23.8bn.

Meanwhile exports to the Republic increased by £540m or 16.2% over the year to £3.9bn, the highest figure since the survey began in 2011. The report states that  "Ireland remains our single largest export market".

Exports to rest of EU fell by £269m (12.1%) to £2.0bn, while sales to the rest of the world increased by £195m (4.8%) over the year, to £4.3bn.

Total sales by companies in Northern Ireland were estimated to be worth £66.6bn in 2017, down £1.1bn on 2016 (1.7%).

Within Northern Ireland, sales increased by £1.3bn to £45.2bn, up 2.9% over the year – the highest since the survey began in 2011.

Meanwhile Northern Ireland recorded the highest rate of GVA growth per head in the UK last year.

Gross value added (GVA), which measures of the value of goods and services produced in an area, industry or sector of an economy, rose 3.1% in 2017, compared with 2.9% in England, 2.7% in Wales and 2.8% in Scotland.

The figures from the Office of National Statistics revealed a disparity between council areas in parts of Northern Ireland. Causeway Coast and Glens saw 8.9% real GVA growth last year, while Mid and East Antrim fell 7%.

Economist Richard Ramsey said he believed the data reflected the impact of the closure of the JTI tobacco plant in Ballymena.

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