Economy Minister Simon Hamilton has paid tribute to the strength of manufacturing during a visit to a world beating plastics firm.
Based in Newtownabbey, Canyon Europe Ltd is a subsidiary of the Canyon Group and is a global leader in the design and manufacture of high quality and innovative products for domestic spray dispensers.
It was also the first Japanese company to set up in Northern Ireland and trades in more than 50 countries.
Touring the factory, Mr Hamilton said the sector was hugely important to the economy.
“Manufacturing provides around 11% of all jobs in Northern Ireland and almost 16% of total economic output of the region.
“The sector makes a significant contribution to export levels and research and development, both of which are central to wealth generation.
“I am pleased that in spite of many challenges our local manufacturing sector has seen its output grow by 2.4% in the last year and that employment in manufacturing firms has grown to approximately 80,000.”
His department’s key objectives, he said, were to stimulate innovation and R&D, improve the skills, and to enable businesses to compete successfully in global markets.
“These are all areas that the manufacturing sector has embraced. Businesses and the workforce are key drivers of economic growth.
“To ensure success in the global economy we must have the right policies in place to enhance Northern Ireland’s competitiveness internationally. This means working closely with the private sector to ensure we create a highly skilled workforce that meets the demand of businesses and underpins economic growth.