NI economy on upward trajectory – Danske

But survey points to less optimistic take with more moderate growth expected


The North’s economy could perform better than expected this year according to Dankse Bank which has revised its growth prospects up to 1.2 per cent from 0.8 per cent.

However, a new survey by the Chartered Accountants Ulster Society has also highlighted that the majority of its members believe the North’s economy is just “growing slowly or moderately”.

Despite differing on how the North’s economy will perform this year both Danske Bank and the Chartered Accountants Ulster Society are in agreement that the two biggest threats to the North’s economy in 2017 are Brexit and political uncertainty.

Conor Lambe, Danske Bank economist, said the bank had decided to revise its economic forecasts upwards because there was evidence that Northern Ireland had a “very strong end to 2016”.

“On the whole the data for the beginning of 2017 suggests that the economy continued to grow during the first three months of this year. Taking all this into consideration, we have revised our forecast for economic growth in 2017 up to 1.2 per cent but we do anticipate a slight slowdown in 2018,” Mr Lambe said.

Danske believes there will be a “modest rise” in the number of people in work in the North this year and expects the information and communication sector to be the fastest growing in Northern Ireland this year with growth of about 4 per cent.

‘Modest prospects’

Meanwhile Pamela McCreedy, chair of the Chartered Accountants Ulster Society, says at least 60 per cent of its members believe the North is looking at more “modest” prospects for the economy in the year ahead with some predicting that growth could drop back to 2016 and 2015 levels.

The society identified the “most positive” factors that could help grow the local economy this year as a “reduced corporation tax rate and an improving global outlook”.

Ms McCreedy said the society’s latest survey also reflects how strongly its members feel about the uncertainty created by Brexit and the possible impact it will have locally.

She said four out of every five chartered accountants in the North believe Northern Ireland “will be more negatively affected by Brexit compared to the rest of the UK”.

“The uncertainty created by Brexit stands out. Our members clearly feel that Northern Ireland may be more negatively impacted by Brexit than other UK regions and have sent a strong message that they see avoiding a hard Border with the Republic of Ireland and free trade with the EU as vital components of any Brexit negotiations,” Ms McCreedy stated.