Advisory group to track Northern Ireland's global economic competitiveness

Northern Ireland's independent Economic Advisory Group (EAG) is to develop a strategy to accurately measure the country's economic competitiveness.

There is currently no comprehensive measure in place and the EAG hopes that creating one will allow the Government to track and implement ways to improve its competitiveness on a global level.

It is one of three proposals set out by the AEG, who also said it wanted to work closer with the Executive sub-committee to implement the country's economic strategy, and to improve access to capital for SMEs.

The EAG was established by the minister in May 2010 to create a focused group of independent economic experts to evaluate the Government's economic strategy.

Chair Kate Barber, a former member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee, commented that the Northern Ireland Executive had 'the right strategic framework in place to improve the local economy' but that 'implementation was now paramount.'

Barber made the announcement after meeting with Northern Ireland's minister of enterprise, trade and investment Arlene Foster to discuss its progress over the last six months.

Business access to finance was also cited as a major issue for businesses in the present climate. Kate Barber added: "This is a strong message which we have received from the minister and from the economic stakeholders we met in November last year."

"We therefore intend to carry out analysis which will detail the funds, programmes and support available to businesses and try to identify gaps and make recommendations which may improve the situation."

The EAG has already begun to explore these problems and is due to respond to the minister with an initial assessment later in autumn of this year.