Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland manufacturing sales reach new high

Cargo containers being unloaded
Image caption Northern Ireland's manufacturing exports rose to their highest value ever

Manufacturing sales from Northern Ireland were worth £13.3bn last year, the highest value on record.

External sales were up by 3.2% over the year, a rise of £415m.

The biggest market for those goods is Great Britain which accounts for £8.1bn - just under half the total value.

The Republic of Ireland is the next single biggest market at £1.3bn, followed by the rest of the EU at £1.2bn.

Sales to all other parts of the world were £2.6bn.

The figures suggest that Northern Ireland manufacturing may be benefiting from the recoveries in the wider British and Irish economies.

Sales to GB were up by 6.2% while sales to the Republic of Ireland were up by 5.3%.

However sales to other EU countries fell by 13%.

The figures are produced by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).

Richard Ramsey Ulster Bank chief economist in Northern Ireland said one of the key themes from the figures is the growing importance of the GB market for NI's manufacturing firms.

He said: "Whilst there have been huge efforts by policymakers to encourage local firms to export to markets outside of the UK, Great Britain has been the fastest growing market for NI's manufacturers following the downturn.

"Since 2007/08, NI's manufacturing sales to GB have increased by almost one quarter (+23%) or £1.5bn.

"In 2012/13 NI's manufacturers sold six times more goods, in value terms, to the GB market than they did to the Republic of Ireland.

"Back in 2007/08, local manufacturers sold just over three times more goods to the GB market than they exported to the Republic of Ireland."