Belfast is the UK's second most attractive city for foreign investors, the UK Trade and Investment Department has claimed.
The department said Northern Ireland attracted more than 220 inward investment projects, generating nearly 21,500 jobs. The figures emerged as UK Trade and Investment Minister Lord Green visited Northern Ireland, where he met representatives from Bombardier and Citigroup. The firms employ 6,400 people between them.
Lord Green, who is a former group chairman for HSBC bank, also met business leaders and Belfast Harbour Commissioners to learn about developments in the renewable energy market. The peer, who is the coalition’s first trade minister, said:
“Growth and job creation are central to the Government's economic recovery plans.
“The UK's inward investors are major drivers of both, and generated 94,000 jobs last year,” he said. “Now more than ever, it is crucial that the UK raises its game to increase its share of global investment.”
Based on figures from Ernst and Young, Belfast is ranked as the UK’s second most attractive city after London, particularly in the technology and financial services sectors. Nearly 70% of companies which have invested in Northern Ireland, which include Fujitsu, Microsoft and FG Wilson owner Caterpillar, have already reinvested, or plan to do so in the future.
Invest NI has played a key role in offering financial incentives.
A spokesman for the UK Trade and Investment Department said: “Northern Ireland punches above its weight in terms of attracting foreign direct investment (FDI).
“In the last three years, it has won 7% of the UK's FDI, with only 2.8% of the population, and Belfast has been named as the second most attractive UK city for attracting FDI.”
Over the past 20 years, Bombardier has invested more than £1.4bn in Northern Ireland operations, providing high value-added jobs and developed capabilities in aerospace technologies.
Citigroup has established and consolidated its presence in Belfast over the past six years. It has developed into one of a small number of centres of excellence for its Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) operations.