Business

Northern Ireland programme to boost trade focuses on Republic and Britain

Pictured launching the trade accelerator plan, from left: Aoife Clarke, Zenith Hygiene Systems; economy minister Simon Hamilton; Sir Jeffery Donaldson and Peter Gormley, Sperrin Metal Products

A NEW government plan has been launched to boost trade outside Northern Ireland.

Economy minister Simon Hamilton said the trade accelerator plan would build on the north's export success.

Official figures this week showed exports from Northern Ireland grew 9.5 per cent last year.

However, they also found a large percentage of businesses in the north trade exclusively to the domestic market.

The new initiative focuses largely on boosting trade to the Republic and Britain.

Launching the scheme, Mr Hamilton said: "Figures released this week show that over the last 12 months, Northern Ireland was the only part of the United Kingdom to see an increase in exports.

"I want us to build on the success of this latest 9.5 per cent rise in exports and help Northern Ireland to become an increasingly outward looking, trading region.

"Growing our exports is critical to growing local business and transforming Northern Ireland into a globally competitive economy. Equally, a new era is beginning for the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland must be ready to seize the opportunities it presents.

"That’s why I have been working closely with Invest NI to develop a Trade Accelerator Plan that further boosts our export capabilities and perfectly places Northern Ireland for the years ahead.”

Among the areas the accelerator plan aims to target are:

:: Enhanced support for export market visits;

:: Travel and accommodation support for SMEs in Britain;

:: Accommodation support for the Republic market;

:: Enhanced support for companies attending exhibitions through the SOLEX scheme;

:: A new Britain Market Introduction programme initially for the construction sector, with a Republic Food Retail development programme under development;

:: Targeting of Britain based buying groups such as the NHS, utilities, agri-foods and the hospitality sector;

:: Additional Meet the Buyer events and market study visits in sectors and markets where businesses have identified opportunities;

:: An increase from 20 days to 30 days in the amount of in-market trade advisory support.

Mr Hamilton launched the scheme at an Opportunity Egypt event at Stormont.

"I want us to look at existing markets and new ones as huge opportunities for Northern Ireland," he added.

"We are already doing exceptionally well at exporting our goods and services but I believe we can do even better.

"In the months ahead we will be confidently looking outwards to the opportunities of global trade with the objective of accelerating and expanding our exports and boosting Northern Ireland’s economy.”

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