Northern Ireland

NI manufacturing: Exports driven by sales outside EU

Manufacturing Image copyright kzenon/thinkstock
Image caption The total value of goods exported in the period was £6.6bn, up by 9% on 2015

The latest official trade figures for Northern Ireland show an increase in manufacturing exports being driven by sales outside the European Union.

The figures, from HM Revenue and Customs, compared the 12 months to March 2016 with the same spell in 2015.

Non-EU exports were up by 27.5%, while EU exports were down by 3.6%.

However, the majority of exports, 52%, still went to the EU. The total value of goods exported in the period was £6.6bn, up by 9% on 2015.

The largest value increases were to the USA, up £604m or 81%, followed by South Korea, up £78m, a four-fold increase.

Strong

Exports decreased the most with the Republic of Ireland, down £151m or 6.7%.

However, the Republic of Ireland continues to dominate Northern Ireland's export market with a 32% share.

On a quarterly basis, export sales to the EU in the first quarter of this year were worth an estimated £852m.

The quarterly average over the last three years is £883m.

There were particularly strong first-quarter sales to North America, worth an estimated £583m.

Leap

The figures have been seized on by the EU referendum's Vote Leave campaign.

It said they "clearly demonstrate the continuing decline of the EU, dragged down by the disaster of the euro and paralysed by the migration crisis".

A Vote Leave spokesman added: "The massive leap in exports to the rest of the world of 28% clearly shows the Northern Ireland economy is well placed for the global future.

"It must embrace this global future with Vote Leave on 23 June so we can reach our own trade deals."

Triggering

The spokesman for the pro-Remain group Northern Ireland Stronger In said the figures confirmed that the majority of Northern Ireland's exports "continue to be within the single market".

"The Irish Republic, Germany and France continue to be hugely important export markets for our local economy, and North America, like Germany is, in the last reported quarter, providing export growth.

The spokesman added: "It is very clear across many sets of figures that Brexit would put at risk over 50% of Northern Ireland's export market triggering an "export tax" to Northern Ireland businesses of some £0.7bn."

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