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Volume 604: debated on Wednesday 20 January 2016

8. What recent discussions she has had with the Northern Ireland Executive on increasing exports. (903082)

The Government continue to work with the Executive towards rebalancing the Northern Ireland economy, including through collaboration on increasing exports and trade co-operation. Northern Ireland exports were valued at £1.62 billion in the third quarter of 2015, the highest quarterly value since 2008.

I thank the Secretary of State for her answer. Can she confirm that the Government will continue supporting stronger trade links between Hampshire and Northern Ireland, particularly given both regions’ strong manufacturing and maritime traditions?

We will certainly do that. Our long-term economic plan is working to boost trade within and outside the UK, as illustrated by the fact that the claimant count is down again in Northern Ireland in figures announced today. In total, since February 2013 there has been a fall of 40.2% in the claimant count in Northern Ireland.

This morning the Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister in Northern Ireland announced over 50 jobs in my constituency, which is a start in an area of high unemployment. Will the Secretary of State use her influence in the Cabinet to ensure that, when there are overseas development and trade visits, Northern Ireland companies are included, to bring inward investment to Northern Ireland?

I can certainly do that. It is vital that UK Trade & Investment, in its work overseas to bring investment to the UK, champions the benefits of investing in Northern Ireland. It is a great place in which to invest, it has a tremendous record on inward investment and the UK Government are determined to see that continue.