North Needs ‘Urgent Action’ On Export Plan, Executive Told

The Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce will today call on the executive to draw up an export action plan as a matter of urgency.

The chamber will make its case to the assembly’s enterprise committee.

Chamber president Mark Nodder will tell MLAs “urgent action” is needed to increase the north’s exports and so meet targets set in the programme for government.

Mr Nodder is managing director of Wrightbus, one of Northern Ireland’s exporters. The firm recently signed a £50 million deal to provide eco-friendly vehicles to British transport company FirstGroup.

It is also in the midst of a £200m order to provide the latest line of iconic London buses to the capital.

However, Mr Nodder will tell the committee companies like his with a focus on exports are on the decline.

He will tell MLAs: “The economic strategy currently states that it prioritises export-led growth and has a target to increase the value of exports by 20 per cent by 2014/15.

“However, one year into that target exports have fallen by 1.2 per cent. The number of businesses exporting goods has been falling and currently stands at just under 1,500 compared to 1,700 in 2010.

“Government must recognise the scale of the export challenge we face and commit to delivering an export action plan for Northern Ireland.

“More resources must be targeted towards support that assists businesses throughout the entire export lifecycle. The current support system is fragmented and fails to recognise that every business looking to export has different requirements.

“Growing Northern Ireland’s export base is critical to the future prospects of this economy and urgent action is needed by government to make this happen.”

Mr Nodder will be joined by chamber chief executive Ann McGregor and economist Maureen O’Reilly.