The Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce has called for further Government measures to boost exports.
Chamber president Mark Nodder told the Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committee that more needed to be done in order to see an improvement.
Speaking to the Committee, Mr Nodder said that the current strategy target to increase the value of exports by 20 per cent by 2014/15 was failing – one year into the plan, target exports have fallen by 1.2 per cent and the number of businesses exporting has fallen to 1,500 from 1,700 in 2010.
Key points that were raised to the Committee:
- Export growth is problematic due to Northern Ireland’s small business base
- The country has the smallest private sector in the UK, 2.3 per cent of the UK total
- Only three per cent (1,500) of Northern Ireland’s businesses export goods
- Businesses require additional finance, market knowledge and networking assistance in order to boost exports.
Mr Nodder told the Committee that businesses need help throughout the export process:
“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.”
Earlier in the year the Chamber announced that boosting exports was at the top of its agenda for 2014.
Key measures on the Chamber’s 2014 agenda included:
- Improving access to finance
- Calling on the UK government to devolve corporation tax powers to Northern Ireland
- Increasing business confidence.