14 March 2017

  |  CBI Northern Ireland

News, Update

Next Executive must addresss low productivity in Northern Ireland

Today, 100 senior business leaders, media and political representatives attended the CBI’s Annual Economic Summit at the Hilton Hotel Belfast, to hear insights from a number of key experts on the economy.

Next Executive must addresss low productivity in Northern Ireland

Insight and intelligence was provided by CBI Chief Economist, Rain Newton-Smith (UK Outlook); Dr Loretta O'Sullivan, Group Chief Economist for the Bank of Ireland (Ireland & EU outlook); and Angela McGowan, CBI Director (Northern Ireland outlook). Political commentary was provided by Alex Kane during a open mic discussion with the audience.

Commenting on the UK economic outlook, CBI’s Chief Economist, Rain Newton-Smith said:

“It’s good news that growth in UK economy is proving resilient but tougher times are ahead for UK consumers. Rising inflation will eat into household’s spending power while a low level of savings won’t provide much of a cushion.

“As the UK and the rest of EU prepare to sit at the negotiating table, a new trading relationship must go hand in hand with a ‘divorce’ agreement. For many goods, Ireland is by far the most significant export market for the UK, with, for example, over 75% our exports of milk and cream destined for Ireland. It’s vital for our farmers, manufacturers and tech companies across Northern Ireland to be able to access Ireland without barriers.

"Low productivity is holding back prosperity in Northern Ireland. Lifting the education achievements of our young people and building the right infrastructure to connect our communities will raise living standards and growth into the future.”

Dr Loretta O’Sullivan, Group Chief Economist, Bank of Ireland provided a positive note when commenting on the Irish economic outlook:

“Growth is set to continue in Ireland, with domestic activity leading the way against an unsettled external backdrop.”

By contrast, Angela McGowan, CBI Northern Ireland Director said:

"Given the Northern Ireland economy’s high dependence on consumer spending, there are clearly issues for this region as inflation starts to bite and real incomes decline.  Nevertheless, we cannot ignore the opportunities; for example, interest rates are low and that makes investing more attractive. In addition, the global economy has taken off strongly this year and therefore this dynamic along with the cheap pound should help local companies increase their competitive offering in world markets”.


Picture Caption: Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Chief Economist; Angela McGowan, CBI Director; Dr Loretta O'Sullivan, Group Chief Economist, Bank of Ireland

This annual event seeks to highlight the likely prospects, key risks, challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for business by providing an outlook for NI / ROI / UK & international.

Across the UK, the CBI speaks on behalf of 190,000 businesses of all sizes and sectors which together employ nearly 7 million people, about one third of the private sector-employed workforce. With offices in the UK as well as representation in Brussels, Washington, Beijing and Delhi, the CBI communicates the British business voice around the world. The CBI in Northern Ireland represents around 1/3 of the private sector workforce, and more than 60% of the largest employers in Northern Ireland. It is the leading business organisation influencing the policies of the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly.

A copy of the CBI’s Regional Growth Report, can be found here: http://www.cbi.org.uk/insight-and-analysis/unlocking-regional-growth/

Angela McGowan, Director, CBI Northern Ireland
Angela joined CBI in October 2016 from Danske Bank UK where she has worked as Chief Economist for the last eight years. Angela has enjoyed a varied career in both the public and the private sector and comes to the CBI with both business insight and significant experience in local economic policy. Angela is involved in the development of a wide range of policy work with particular interests in economic development, education, energy, planning, transport issues and public sector reform. She will continue to lead and develop CBI Northern Ireland into an effective, and respected, business representation organisation providing influence on key public policy matters.

Rain Newton-Smith is CBI Chief Economist.
Rain leads the team which provides economic analysis and our prestigious surveys. She was most recently head of Emerging Markets at Oxford Economics where she managed a large team of economists and was the lead expert on China. Rain also provided macroeconomic forecasts and analysis on China's role in the global economy and the development of Asia, helping a range of companies and international financial institutions to expand into new markets and grow their business. Prior to that, Rain worked in monetary policy and international forecast to the MPC at the Bank of England where she led a team with responsibility for developing a risk assessment framework for the UK financial system. While at the Bank, she also went on secondment to the International Monetary Fund in Washington D.C. where she was adviser to the UK executive director. In 2010, Rain was selected as one of Management Today’s 35 Women Under 35. Rain was honoured by the World Economic Forum in 2012 as a Young Global Leader.

Dr Loretta O'Sullivan is Group Chief Economist at Bank of Ireland.
Loretta heads up the Economic Research Unit and is responsible for economic analysis, including commentary, forecasts and research for various Group stakeholders and customers. She joined the Group from the Central Bank of Ireland, where she held the position of Senior Economist within the Monetary Policy & International Relations Division. Prior to that, she was a Senior Economist at the Department of Finance, during which time she was seconded for two years to the European Commission's Economic and Financial Affairs Directorate in Brussels. Loretta holds a Ph.D in Economics from Trinity College Dublin, an MA in Policy, Management and Government from the University of York, and a BA (Mod) in Economics and Social Studies from Trinity College Dublin.

Alex Kane is a political writer, columnist and commentator based in Belfast and a former Director of Communications for the Ulster Unionist Party.

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