Monday 11 December 2017

All-Ireland vision could benefit key sectors of economy - report

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Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

All-ireland business clusters could ignite regional economies, according to new reserarch.

Cross-border body InterTradeIreland has published a new study mapping the locations of businesses in Ireland.

Most of the clusters are based around the urban hubs of Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Cork, although there is a concentration in the midlands.

Medical devices is heavily concentrated around the State's main cities, while pharmaceuticals is clustered mostly around Dublin, Cork and Waterford. Agri-food is, as expected, almost everywhere across the island reflecting its importance north and south.

Aidan Gough of InterTradeIreland said there is a sectoral spread throughout the country, but added: "If you're looking at an area possibly where there's room for development it's the northwest, and possibly the southwest, if you don't include Cork in that."

InterTradeIreland said the potential benefits to arise from cluster or sectoral ecosystems development are widely researched and evidenced but to date there has been little research on the potential benefits of all-island clustering, or on the areas and sectors in which they can be developed.

The report maps out the cluster areas that exist in detail and the organisation has come up with a number of findings and recommendations.

The body distinguishes six areas in which potential benefits could occur arising from economies of scale including; research, technology and innovation, the labour market; education and training; and infrastructure.

InterTradeIreland also did a detailed case study analysis of three prominent growth sectors; medical devices, pharmaceuticals and software.

"The case studies demonstrate that the potential for, and advantages of, developing all-island sectoral ecosystems are different from sector to sector," the report said.

"Importantly, the case studies suggest that there is great potential for developing all-island sectoral ecosystems. However, different areas offer different levels of potential and benefit."

Meanwhile, the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland Purchasing Managers' Index, released yesterday, pointed to a general pick-up in growth momentum, with output, new orders and employment all rising at faster rates than in the previous month.

But underneath the positive headlines the performance at a sector level was somewhat mixed. The improvement in services and construction firms concealed a slowdown in retail sales and outright contraction within manufacturing.

"Retail sales are easing from a period of very strong growth. However the performance of the manufacturing sector is of more concern, with output, new orders and employment all falling in November," Ulster Bank Northern Ireland economist Richard Ramsey said.

"Manufacturers have reduced their headcount in each of the last three months. This comes ahead of a significant number of high profile redundancies, already announced, but due to take place next year.

"While the return of pay rises coupled with 'noflation' will support consumer spending and therefore the retail sector next year, 2016 does not look as if it will be a great year for manufacturing."

On this side of the border, data from the CSO shows that seasonally adjusted goods exports increased by €1.5bn, or 17pc, to €10.3bn compared with September. Imports rose by €544m, or 10pc.

Irish Independent

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