Tech, tourism and food will drive steady economic growth

22 Aug 2011

Technology, tourism and agri-food are the three sectors that will drive steady and sustained economic growth over the next decade, according to a new ‘Business in 2021’ report by Barclays Bank Ireland

The research, in which 100 private sector business leaders were surveyed (as part of larger report which also looked at regions in the UK) on the conditions they expect their business to face in a decade, found respondents generally positive about Ireland’s long term economic prospects with 82pc expecting Ireland to be a better place to do business in 2021.

Just 6pc expect Irish business conditions to deteriorate and 8pc expect conditions to be similar to today.

Nearly all businesses see technology and hospitality and tourism as key areas fuelling economic growth. Over a quarter (28pc) spontaneously mentioned food and agriculture.

Irish business leaders upbeat about future prospects

Views vary significantly between regions in UK however, with more than two thirds of respondents in Northern Ireland, Scotland and the East Midlands all positive about the future, compared with just 44pc of London companies.

Business are generally more positive about their regions also, with on average 5pc more companies confident about their future regional business landscape than the UK as a whole.

“It is clear that the majority of businesses here believe in the longer term fundamental strength of Ireland as a place to do business,” Andrew Hastings, CEO, Barclays Bank Ireland said.

“It is also telling to see that businesses in Ireland are generally more positive than our nearest neighbour, demonstrating the importance of our economic infrastructure and outward orientated approach which facilitates exports and International investment.’

According to the survey, businesses here are more optimistic (91pc) on potential exports, believing that the level of exports will increase in 10 years time.

At a broader level 82pc believed that Irish companies will become more competitive on a global scale.

Irish businesses also expect international domiciling here to increase with two thirds of those surveyed saying that more international companies will set up headquarters in Ireland in the next decade. There was also a belief that foreign ownership of Irish businesses is set to increase by 2021.

Hastings concluded: “Ireland has benefited from foreign direct investment for decades.  While we aim to attract more international investment to stimulate economic development and job creation we need to be constantly cognitive of our competitiveness in terms of ongoing skills development and business infrastructure, endeavouring at all levels to safe guard and build on what we have.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years