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Friday, 6 October, 2000, 05:42 GMT 06:42 UK
'NI can build enterprise economy'
Computer workstations
Information economy is way forward for NI says Sir Reg
Northern Ireland's trade and enterprise minister has said the province can develop a high growth and information-based economy by learning from the United States.

Sir Reg Empey was a speaker at the official opening of the New York/Northern Ireland Trade Investment Fair in New York on Thursday.

The fair, which is focusing on software and new media, is a networking event for Northern Ireland and US high tech companies.

Sir Reg said that the Northern Ireland Assembly executive was keen to create an enterprise economy "which encourages and rewards entrepreneurial activity".

Speaking at the fair the Ulster Unionist minister said: "We want to build a new Northern Ireland and create an inclusive and prosperous economy.

"Our aim will be to drive the economy forward by creating conditions in which innovation and bright ideas will prosper; and which, above all, will offer worthwhile opportunities to all our people. Northern Ireland.

"An economic environment - similar to the US - that assists successful small innovative businesses, both locally and externally owned, to transform themselves quickly into global leaders is our vision."

He added: "In the 21st century, economic growth and wealth will be created by innovative people working through global partnerships resulting from events such as this within frameworks shaped by government which stimulate and reward enterprise."

Sir Reg Empey: Warning about impact of political instability on investment
During the visit, Sir Reg will receive an award from the Flax Trust for his work in economic regeneration.

However, earlier this week, Sir Reg was warning that uncertainty in Northern Ireland's political situation was affecting efforts to attract investment.

Dissidents in the Ulster Unionist party could force leader David Trimble to withdraw his ministers from the Stormont power-sharing executive, if the Ulster Unionist Council demands a change of the policy to working with republicans.

The anti-agreement Ulster Unionists are demanding that the party should leave the executive until the IRA has decommissioned its weapons, and the reforms of the Royal Ulster Constabulary proposed in the Police Bill passing through parliament have been limited.

If the Ulster Unionists leave the executive, this would have a major effect on the workings of the assembly, which works on a cross-party power-sharing structure.

Sir Reg told BBC Radio Ulster "Every time one attempts to market NI as a place to do business we always have this background noise.

"It has to be said that it does impact on one's ability to convince people to invest here."

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See also:

11 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
NI businesses 'embracing net'
02 Oct 00 | Northern Ireland
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