Business leaders – reverse the decline caused by devolution row

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The “starkly negative” impact of the collapse of Stormont powersharing should be quickly reversed, business leaders said.

Northern Ireland’s overall trade performance is poor and sales within the domestic market are weak while order balances are negative, the latest Northern Ireland Chamber survey showed.

Key figures in the local economy have said they are buoyant following restoration of devolution.

Ann McGregor, chief executive of NI Chamber said: “Business investment has taken a particular hit over the last few years and that will have consequences for the growth and competitiveness of this region’s economy going forward.

“Cash-flow problems persist, as do recruitment difficulties.

“Given recent trading conditions, these results are unfortunately not surprising.

Ulster powersharing
Stormont is back up and running (Kelvin Boyes/Presseye/PA)

“While businesses are more positive about their own prospects for growth in 2020 compared to the wider economy, despite best efforts, their plans are weighed down by these external factors.”

“Following the long-awaited return to devolution last week, the Executive must move fast to start reversing the damage and restore the confidence of businesses, consumers and investors – and make sure Northern Ireland does not get left further behind.”

She said it was critical they got the approach to trade right.

“As an export focused organisation, we welcome the focus on investing in business growth for the future.”

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