Manufacturing Can Help Pull NI Economy Through Difficult Times
Manufacturing Northern Ireland has said that the manufacturing sector has a ‘bright green future’, despite a difficult two years. Launching the organisations’ manifesto this morning at Stormont, economist Philip McDonagh praised the resilience of the sector, adding that if government takes the necessary steps to work closely with manufacturing, then it has the potential to help bring the local economy through the economic downturn.
The manifesto document focuses on a series of themes, outlining how it recommends ‘Greening the local economy’, ‘Skilling the local economy’ and ‘Competing in a global marketplace’. It develops a series of pledges which the manufacturing sector makes to government and to the wider Northern Ireland public, and targets the creation of 30,000 green jobs by 2020. The manifesto also notes the fact that the manufacturing sector has increased its exports and raised its sales.
Speaking at the launch, independent economist Philip McDonagh praised the drive by Manufacturing Northern Ireland to develop a close working relationship with the Executive,
“Our local manufacturing sector has shown a remarkable resilience in recent times in the face of fierce global competition and rising business costs, with output rising again after the recession. It is essential that the critical role of the manufacturing sector in growing the private sector of the economy through exporting and raising productivity and value added is realized and supported. This new manufacturing vision needs investment in skills development, in research & development and the creation of a business-friendly environment. There are particular opportunities in the agri-food and sustainable technology sectors. However it is also clear that manufacturing opportunities exist across the board.”
Bryan Gray, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Manufacturing said that the sector was in resilient shape, and is realistic about the challenges and opportunities ahead.
“The manifesto outlines the fact that manufacturing, whilst losing 10,000 jobs over the past two years, has now stabilised and grown its sales considerably. It calls on the executive to introduce a series of low cost measures, designed to help stimulate the manufacturing sector whilst also making a series of commitments, including embracing global markets, deepening links with universities, and investing in equipment, design, markets, processes and people.”
“We fully support the campaigns to make Northern Ireland an Enterprise Zone and to lower Corporation Tax, as we see these facilitating the necessary rebalancing of the economy. They are not however ‘silver bullets’ that will magically transform the economy and should not be a distraction from the task in front of us. Similarly, ensuring a competitive cost base is an absolute priority but is also not enough to bring about the scale of change necessary. Changing Northern Ireland begins with changing ourselves, a task for us, not others. We need to unleash our enterprise, raise our skills, invest in our infrastructure and harness all our energies, including public servants, to make Northern Ireland a place in which investment makes sense.