In response to answers received from Finance Minister, Simon Hamilton on levels of Export figures Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has called for a stronger focus on strengthening of Trade and Investment opportunities across the island.
Maeve McLaughlin said:
“According to figures from the Department of Finance and Personnel, manufacturing exports from the North of Ireland account for approximately one-fifth of our total gross value added (GVA) product. Southern Ireland is a major export market, accounting for more than a third (37%) of our over-all exports in 2011.
“These figures show a significant reliance by our manufacturing sector on island wide trade. I would urge the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment to recognise the importance of this market by giving it a stronger focus.
“Ministers, North and South need to work collaboratively to remove all barriers to island-wide trade and build on the existing level of success. It is time to prioritise the development of all-island infrastructure to enhance trade and sustain the viability of our manufacturing sector.
“We should be working towards harmonising fiscal, currency and tax regimes for the benefit of the economic future of the whole island and its people. Excise and corporation tax differentials in particular inhibit potential economic growth.
“It is extremely short-sighted for North and South to be going forward as two competing regions when logic dictates that building on the natural island economic strengths would remove barriers and weaknesses so that genuine synergies can be realized for the mutual benefit of both economies.
“Such a courageous shift in policy could ultimately result in development of deeply embedded, inter-connected island industrial activity. Our high level of manufacturing exports to the South demonstrates the potential for greater industrial synergy across the island.
“This interaction could provoke further awareness of the opportunities and attract increased investment by identifying districts across the island and designating them as Industry Specific Zones.
“For example industrial districts centred on specific industries in specific geographic regions and with the potential of local sourcing of relative materials, expertise and industrial networks would have a special attractiveness to specialised industries.”