Question Time: Enterprise, Trade and Investment 13 October 2014

What are the prospects of further job creation through direct foreign investment in the current financial year? A question put to the Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister, Arlene Foster, during today’s Question Time. Mrs Foster pointed out that Invest NI support job creation in Northern Ireland through foreign investors using a schedule (often over 3-5 years, sometimes longer) that best suits the investors’ plans for development and growth. This makes it difficult for Invest NI to forecast the number of jobs that may be created in any particular year. Since the start of its current corporate plan in 2011 to the end of March 2014, 9108 jobs have been created. The last six months has been a particularly good period with 1200 new jobs created from ten inward investors including Baker McKenzie, Proofpoint and Puppet Labs. The Minister also highlighted the impact that would be created through the devolution of corporation tax on foreign investment. It would see “a large spike in the number of companies looking to come to Northern Ireland” and would be “a huge boost to the private sector.

The Minister then discussed the relaxed visa restrictions and the potential boost in tourism for Northern Ireland. A new British and Irish visa scheme was launched by the Home Office at the start of October as part of the G8 economic pact. The changes will allow Chinese and Indian tourists to enter Northern Ireland using a British or Irish visa for the first time. Tourism Ireland and Visit Britain will be working hard to promote the scheme and raise awareness of Northern Ireland as a tourist destination. To supplement the new visa regulations Mrs Foster confirmed that air connectivity to Northern Ireland is a top priority and “very much at the top of my agenda”. She has met with airport officials regarding their route development plans and took part in the recent World Routes Conference in Chicago, saying “we are trying to be innovative in our attempts to attract new routes”.

The Minister was also questioned on the prospect of the 2023 Rugby World Cup coming to Ireland and the tax incentives available to the film and TV industry in Ireland. During topical questions Mrs Foster also discussed JTI Gallaher job losses, the withdrawal of events funding and concerns around rising energy costs.

You can read the full transcript on our website.

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