No doomsday scenario - but Northern Ireland's growth is slowest in UK

The economy in Northern Ireland grew by 1.1 per cent in 2017 according to new ONS statistics
The economy in Northern Ireland grew by 1.1 per cent in 2017 according to new ONS statistics

NORTHERN Ireland's economy has grown by 1.1 per cent in real terms this year, official figures have confirmed.

That's half a percentage point lower than the UK average of 1.6 per cent and also lags behind Wales (1.9 per cent) and Scotland (1.2 per cent), the Office for National Statistics (ONS) report shows.

But it's ahead of the growth rate that a number of regional economists had predicted, and one doomsday scenario that the north could actually tip into recession in 2017 has proven unfounded.

However, even that modest growth is likely to slow next year, as private consumption growth dips and fixed investment is dampened by the pervasive uncertainty still generated by Brexit.

Indeed the International Monetary Fund has revised its UK GDP for growth forecast for 2017 down from 1.7 per cent to 1.6 per cent.

In its annual review of the UK economy it also said that growth next year will remain unchanged at 1.5 per cent, with Brexit negotiations remaining a “key uncertainty”.

The IMF’s director general Christine Lagarde denied that it was being too “gloomy” over Brexit and said the fund’s controversial forecasts ahead of the referendum had been vindicated.

She said: “We were not too gloomy - we were on the mark. Our forecasts turned out to be the reality of the economy.”

The ONS figures show that Northern Ireland's 1.1 per cent growth was better than four of the other 11 UK regions - the North East (minus 1 per cent), the South East (up 0.8 per cent), East Midlands (up 0.8 per cent) and Yorkshire & the Humber (flat at 0 per cent).

Growth in gross value added (GVA) per head in Northern Ireland was 2.8 per cent, in line with the UK as a whole, at £19,997 a head in current basic prices.

The UK's four capital cities also showed strong growth, but Belfast's 2.3 per cent was eclipsed by Cardiff (5.7 per cent), London (5.1 per cent) and Edinburgh (4.6 per cent).