Jobs: Foreign Direct Investment

Oral Answers to Questions – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:15 pm on 12th May 2014.

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Photo of Sean Lynch Sean Lynch Sinn Féin 2:15 pm, 12th May 2014

4. asked the First Minister and deputy First Minister what impact their visits to attract foreign direct investment had on the recent job announcements. (AQO 6073/11-15)

Photo of Martin McGuinness Martin McGuinness Sinn Féin

A key focus of the Executive's Programme for Government 2011-15 is to grow the economy.  We are committed to bringing investment, jobs, tourists, new skills and best practice by promoting local capabilities and developing mutually beneficial relationships with targeted countries, regions and international organisations.  Securing international projects requires long-term relationship building and raising awareness of the many advantages of investing here.  We will continue to be proactive in targeting countries and organisations in an effort to secure trade and investment opportunities. 

Our international engagement during the past year has generated a number of significant benefits.  As a result of recent visits to Japan in December and the United States in March, we have been able to secure investment from Fujitsu, with the announcement in December of a 192-job project for Derry, and, in February, Ryobi announced a £32 million investment, with the creation of 100 new jobs in Carrickfergus.  We are pleased to report that we had a very successful visit to the west and east coasts of the United States in March.  We had meetings with senior executives from Home Box Office (HBO) and Seagate Technology.  Both companies make a significant contribution to the local economy.  We also met Concentrix and we hosted a luncheon in San Jose, which was attended by over 120 potential investors. 

HBO and Concentrix have since announced major investments here.  The HBO investment will generate in excess of £20 million annually to the local economy, and Concentrix will create over 1,000 new jobs, which will contribute over £18 million a year in wages and salaries here.  Of course the Convergys announcement in Derry, the announcements from EY, Capita, Schrader Electronics and, this morning, Wrightbus are all very good news. 

The First Minister and I are confident that our personal intervention helps to bring potential investors over the line to commit to investing here.  The First Minister and I continue to make a strong personal commitment to promoting economic growth during our overseas visits.  In fact, that is the underlying objective for any visit that we undertake.  We look forward to standing here in future to announce more very important new investments as a result of our overseas visits.

Photo of William Hay William Hay Speaker

Can I just remind the deputy First Minister of the time limits?  If Ministers need more time, they can certainly ask and they will get more time.

Photo of Sean Lynch Sean Lynch Sinn Féin

Go raibh maith agat, a Cheann Comhairle.  Gabhaim buíochas leis an LeasChéad-Aire as an fhreagra sin.  I thank the deputy First Minister for his comprehensive answer.  Will the Minister give us his views on recent investment by HBO and other investments in the film and television industry?

Photo of Martin McGuinness Martin McGuinness Sinn Féin

I think, by this stage, Members here as well as the general public will be well aware of the extensive publicity given in recent weeks to the phenomenal success that 'Game of Thrones' has been right throughout the international community.  Investment in the four series to date of £9·25 million has returned over £98 million to the local economy in direct leverage spend.  The economic impact of such investment in the TV and film industry is significant when coupled with the wider benefits that have been derived to date.  Securing internationally mobile productions of that type has also led to the development of additional sound stage facilities, which will increase our ability to secure large-scale productions and will enable us to manage multiple productions at the same time.

We have a recognised credibility of association with international production projects, which has significant added-value opportunities for our economy, not least for tourism.  NI Screen continues to engage with key stakeholders, including the Tourist Board and Tourism Ireland, on developing that opportunity.  Tourism Ireland recently used 'The Shore', Terry and Oorlagh George's Oscar-winning film, to highlight and promote the local tourist industry.  The relationship with HBO has been very important.  As a result of the success of 'Game of Thrones', the making of 'Dracula' and many other productions in recent times, we now have a very solid base on which to build.

Photo of Mike Nesbitt Mike Nesbitt UUP

The House is often told that Northern Ireland comes second only to London in attracting foreign direct investment into the UK.  That is obviously something to be welcomed and embraced.  Will the deputy First Minister help me embrace that further by giving us the comparative breakdown of what percentage of total FDI goes to London and what percentage comes to Northern Ireland?

Photo of Martin McGuinness Martin McGuinness Sinn Féin

I do not have those figures, but we will write to the Member with those.  I think that, in asking the question, the Member knew fine rightly that that would be the answer. 

The important thing is that we are doing well.  The important thing is that, in recent times and against the backdrop of what has been a very cruel world recession, we have been battling on all fronts.  More importantly, we have all been battling together.  The overseas visits that we have engaged in have had a major impact in places like North America and Japan.  Of course, the opening of a new office in Beijing, later this year, will provide a further opportunity to build on the relationship with the politicians in China.  Against the backdrop of the world recession, what has happened here has been pretty phenomenal, but we have to keep it going.  Far too many people are unemployed.  Although all the signs appear to be very good when we listen to the experts who monitor all this, what is most encouraging about the news of the past couple of days is the prospects for people in the construction industry, which is hugely important for our indigenous businesses. 

As for the ability that we have to compete with regions like London, and, indeed, many others, we have clearly shown that, as a result of the effort that has been made, we can compete with anybody.  We will write to you with the exact figures in the percentage terms that you are seeking.

Photo of Colum Eastwood Colum Eastwood Social Democratic and Labour Party

Given its importance in attracting FDI, what involvement did the deputy First Minister or his Department have in the promotion of the enterprise zone in Coleraine?

Photo of Martin McGuinness Martin McGuinness Sinn Féin

The enterprise zone in Coleraine is effectively a pilot project.  Principally, the responsibility for dealing with that resides with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.  From our perspective, we are trying to ensure that we see the success of the Coleraine enterprise zone as a forerunner to other developments in other parts of the North.  However, the departmental responsibility lies more with DETI than OFMDFM.

Photo of Jim Allister Jim Allister Traditional Unionist Voice

What impact does it have on promoting Northern Ireland as a stable place when the deputy First Minister's mask slips and it emerges that his support for law and order is selective and conditional on his terrorist buddies not being pursued?  What impact does that have on foreign public confidence?

Photo of Martin McGuinness Martin McGuinness Sinn Féin

I think that I, alongside the First Minister, have had a very positive impact in recording the success that we have seen over the past number of years, when more foreign direct investment jobs have been brought into the North of Ireland than at any other time in the history of the state. 

The Member refers to my comments.  I think that perhaps people should have listened very carefully to what I said, rather than work on a media interpretation, for which I am not responsible.  I have made my position absolutely crystal clear:  I fully support the PSNI and those who are committed to delivering impartial and accountable policing.  I am absolutely opposed to those who would seek to undermine the progress that we have made on policing and justice and the wider peace process.  Those elements, I am determined, will not turn the clock back to the dark days of policing, which included a lot of repression and sectarianism.