Northern Ireland Must Grasp This Unique Opportunity To Transform The Local Economy Says AIB Senior Economist

Northern Ireland businesses are well positioned to transform the local economy by taking advantage of the unique access they have to both the UK and EU single market, according to AIB Senior Economist, John Fahey.

Speaking to local business and industry leaders at a breakfast event held at the Merchant Hotel, Belfast, John examined key economic drivers and indicators, pointing to the rapid fall of headline inflation with core rates holding steady and the improved Sterling trading range.

The breakfast was the latest in a series of economic briefings held by AIB’s business and corporate banking team, with the bank welcoming over 250 attendees across Dungannon, Ballymena, Derry/Londonderry, Enniskillen, Newry and Belfast.  

Speaking at the event, John Fahey, Senior Economist, AIB said; “While the pace of economic activity decelerated in Northern Ireland as elsewhere in 2023, there are encouraging signs of activity, with many private sector organisations reporting strong demand and full order books. While recruitment remains a key challenge for many sectors, the market has adjusted to previous uncertainty and the stagnation of the last number of years, with inflation likely to decrease further towards the end of summer 2024.”

“Northern Ireland enjoys unique dual market access to both the UK and EU single market, and it must grasp this opportunity to transform the local economy. This offers massive potential to unlock further economic benefits through large scale foreign direct investment (FDI) and should also present significant opportunities to indigenous companies. AIB is well positioned to support businesses as they look to capitalise on these opportunities given our operations and expertise in Great Britain, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland markets and the bespoke financial services we can offer.”

Welcoming questions from guests which included representatives from manufacturing, retail and professional services, the potential for a corporation tax reduction and the green economy were popular topics among attendees.

Speaking at the event, Seamus McGuckin, AIB’s Head of Corporate NI added, “While the reality and practicality of dual market access needs to be addressed at a policy level, AIB is committed to playing its part through highlighting the opportunities it presents and through ongoing knowledge exchange and collaboration with other business representatives. Importantly we will also do so through our own lending policies and structures to ensure they support our customers in the best way possible. This includes a particular focus on access to capital for environmental, social and governance projects which contribute to a circular green economy.”

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