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Cross-Sector Advisory Forum

Part of Ministerial Statement – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 12:45 pm on 20th April 2009.

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Photo of Peter Robinson Peter Robinson DUP 12:45 pm, 20th April 2009

In times of economic hardship, companies often withdraw to their base. Those that want to expand often do so in their home territory rather than outside it. However, during our recent trip to the United States, the deputy First Minister and I were pleased that Universal Studios proposes to use the Paint Hall in the Titanic Quarter to make a film. Another investment in Northern Ireland will be announced soon, and there is considerable hope of a significant jobs announcement before too long.

Therefore, even in the context of the perceived economic doom and gloom, people are bringing business to Northern Ireland. The cost of establishing business in the key areas of financial services, business services, IT and the creative industries is much cheaper in Northern Ireland than in other European capitals. That gives us an edge, and those high-value jobs are precisely what the economy needs, because they assist and boost our gross value added (GVA) and GDP. Those jobs are earmarked for growth in the economy. Even if we must endure a difficult period, we are developing the skills to do such jobs, and will be well placed, during the full recovery, to take advantage of it.

I believe that we met our job-creation targets for the financial year that has just ended. However, it will become increasingly difficult to do so again. We must accept that Invest Northern Ireland and DETI have a difficult job ahead of them, and the House should do everything it can to make Northern Ireland a more attractive place to come to, rather than playing things down and bemoaning the achievements that have been made.