The Economic Advisory Group (EAG) has today published the first Northern Ireland (NI) Competitiveness Report.

The EAG provides independent advice to the Minister for the Economy aimed at challenging and developing public policy and strategic thinking on the NI and UK economies.  Central to this role is understanding where NI’s competitive strengths and weaknesses lie.

The group commissioned UUEPC to develop an NI Competitiveness Scorecard to benchmark the region’s international performance across more than 150 indicators against UK, EU and OECD comparators.  This assessment brings together traditional economic competitiveness measures such as productivity, business performance and skills with areas such as quality of life and environmental sustainability.

The Group’s Chair, Ms Ellvena Graham writes in her foreword, “The Economic Advisory Group (EAG) publishes the first NI Competitiveness Report at an important point in the region’s economic development. The Fresh Start Agreement has been launched, the delivery of a new Programme for Government and refocused Economic Strategy is imminent, and the countdown to the lowering of Corporation Tax has begun.  Another countdown has also commenced and in due course Northern Ireland will be competing across the world from an as yet undefined position outside of the EU. A strategic review of NI’s competitive strengths and weaknesses has never been more relevant and timely.”

This Competitiveness Scorecard provides a baseline position with which to measure the future progress of the new Programme for Government and the refocused Economic Strategy, and will allow for regular monitoring of NI’s international competitiveness going forward.

Ms Graham concludes, “I look forward to continued engagement between the Minister for the Economy, the officials in the Department for the Economy (DfE) and the EAG and to providing ongoing challenge and support as we strive together to grow a more successful economy.”

Commenting on the report Economy Minister Simon Hamilton MLA said, My number one aim as Minister for the Economy is to transform Northern Ireland into a globally competitive economy.  I want us to develop an economy we are proud of and is the envy of others. I welcome the publication of the Competitiveness Scorecard, which demonstrates improvements including in areas such as business performance and quality of life. However, there are clearly still challenges ahead if we are to become as competitive as the leading international economies, and the forthcoming refocus of the Economic Strategy will further develop our vision as to how we achieve this.

“One of my first actions as Minister was to task officials with examining how we can develop a high level overview of Northern Ireland’s competitiveness against a tailored group of small, advanced economies like Singapore, New Zealand, Finland, Ireland and Estonia as part of my ongoing work on refreshing the Economic Strategy. I want to ensure we not only measure up to other similar economies but can also compete as an innovative, competitive economy and a good place to live and do business. This work is expected to be published in the coming months.”

Northern Ireland Competitiveness at a glance

NI Performance at a glance web

The number shown is NI’s current decile position – the lower the number, the more competitive we are. Green shows NI’s relative improvement over the last five years – red indicates where we have become less competitive over the last five years.