Mon 6th Jan 2014
Growing Something Brilliant in 2014
Increasing exports is main priority says NI Chamber
Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce has urged the government to do everything it can to unleash business growth in 2014.
Outlining NI Chamber’s biggest priority for 2014, Chamber President Mark Nodder said that the number of exporters in Northern Ireland must be increased:
“Exports continue to decline and Northern Ireland lags behind the rest of the UK with regards to the number of active exporters. NI Chamber will continue providing practical support through a range of private sector led growth and export programmes and continue to challenge Government to ensure we have a business environment conducive to business growth.
“In 2014 we will continue to focus on inspiring export and new initiatives include a UKTI supported initiative with the world-wide Chamber network to support trade. We will also continue with our ‘Growing Something Brilliant’ campaign with the aim of inspiring more businesses to set up, grow and export by looking at what has already been achieved by the business community in Northern Ireland, and sharing the good news that is out there.”
The following measures are at the top of the NI Chamber agenda for 2014:
- Review communication in relation to the promotion of business support to make it easier for businesses, especially SMEs, to find the support or advice that they need in a timely and efficient manner. Central to this should be a partnership approach with stakeholders recognising each other’s specialist skills or networks and co-operating (rather than competing) to support business growth and export
- Address the structural failure in business finance, so that firms can access the working capital they need to operate and access the finance they need to realise their long-term growth ambitions including exporting
- Continue to pursue the devolution of corporation tax powers to Northern Ireland following the Scottish Referendum in 2014. This is clearly still on the table however the challenge will be ensuring that this is resolved before the next general election
- Nurture business confidence so that companies are encouraged to invest their hard-earned money into employing more people, expanding their premises and in new plant and machinery
- Relieve firms from the ‘cost of doing business crisis’, which includes rising business rate bills and energy costs – money which could be better spent on investment. The DETI Review of Red Tape is a positive step and the recent boost of £176m into the NI Economy as a result of the Autumn Statement must be used to cut energy bills
- Better availability of skilled workers – employability skills must be put at the heart of the education system, so that businesses have access to the right people with the right skill sets to be able to compete internationally. Recent NI Chamber surveys show that businesses are having greater difficulty in finding new staff, particularly skilled manual workers.
Mr Nodder also commented:
“Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce is committed to making ‘Growing Something Brilliant’ the business mantra for 2014. We have many reasons to be optimistic as we enter a new year, with the UK economy growing at its fastest rate for three years, a buoyant jobs market and lower borrowing forecasts, but we must turn the good growth we have seen over recent months into really great, sustainable growth.
“There are firms in Northern Ireland that cannot access the finance that they need to realise their long term growth ambitions, to go from being small businesses to medium-sized ones and beyond. Companies here are still finding it difficult to access finance for faster growth especially in exports. This is an issue for both banks and businesses and both need to change – we’re in a new lending environment. The early successes achieved by the Growth Loan Fund show that with some risk and the appropriate support measures then some deals can be done.
“Business confidence is also key to unleashing business growth in 2014. Northern Ireland businesses are working hard, want to grow and are certain of their own abilities. But this confidence needs to be nurtured so that it becomes stronger still. We have many businesses in Northern Ireland who have the potential to be the best in the world and start exporting. More businesses must follow the lead of companies such as Bombardier, Chesapeake, Moy Park and Niche Drinks.
“If we do more to support exports, make important decisions to fix the long-term structural failure in business finance and pursue the devolution of corporation tax powers to Northern Ireland, it is possible to achieve not just a good recovery but a truly great and sustainable economy in 2014.”
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For further information please contact:
Communications & Policy Manager
Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce
Tel: 02890 244113 / 07808789163