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Need for clear economic strategy, says Dickson

There needs to be a clear and future-proofed economic strategy for Northern Ireland, in which manufacturing can play a key role, Alliance Economy spokesperson Stewart Dickson MLA has said.

Mr Dickson was speaking after the Assembly heard a motion calling for an Executive manufacturing strategy to help the sector recover and grow following the pandemic. The East Antrim MLA said while he was supportive of the intent, any strategy needed to be more all-encompassing.

“The manufacturing sector is a vital part of our local economy and I want to commend workers in it, trade unions and the businesses themselves, who have kept things running despite challenging circumstances, and I hope the extension of the furlough scheme will alleviate some pressure.

“Much of the sector, like many parts of our lives, ground to a halt in March due to the pandemic. Damage has also come in the form of decreased demand for certain goods and the disruption of global supply chains. Therefore we need to look at how to support and expand our manufacturing sector and that’s where a proper, joined-up economic strategy, with a manufacturing strategy as a key component alongside a green new deal, comes in.

“I have previously been told work on such plans has stopped due to COVID-19. That is not acceptable, as long-term strategies are needed more than ever, guiding us to recovery. It is incumbent upon the Minister to use the resources available to her to create an innovative response to this pandemic and the impending challenges posed by Brexit, at a time when manufacturing is already struggling.”