Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland manufacturing sees strong growth

Image caption Manufacturing in Nothern Ireland saw year-on-year growth of 2.7%

Northern Ireland's manufacturing sector grew strongly in the first quarter of 2019, official figures suggest.

The year-on-year growth of 2.7% is similar to the growth experienced by the wider UK manufacturing sector.

Manufacturing is likely to have been boosted by companies increasing output ahead of the original Brexit date.

Some firms increased production to mitigate against the possibility of disruption caused by a no-deal Brexit.

For example Norbrook, the Newry-based pharmaceutical firm, said it was planning to stockpile six months worth of product inside the EU.

The output of Northern Ireland's pharmaceutical and chemicals sector spiked by nearly 11% compared to the same time in 2018.

Image caption Norbrook said it was planning to stockpile six months worth of product inside the EU

The sector's output is now at an all-time high and has almost doubled in the last 10 years.

Other sectors such as textiles and metal products also saw double digit annual growth in the first quarter.

The services sector, which is the dominant part of the economy, had a more subdued performance.

It grew by 0.7% on an annual basis, but output was down by 0.4% compared to the final quarter of 2018.

The annual increase in output was driven by business services and finance, which saw growth of 3.1%.

However, the retail and hospitality sector, which is the single largest services subsector, saw output decline slightly.

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