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Diversification continuing to provide economic resilience

Friday, 2 March 2012

The diversification of the Isle of Man’s economy is continuing to provide great resilience in the face of challenging international conditions.

Emerging sectors, including e-gaming and aerospace engineering, enjoyed significant growth during 2011 to bolster the contribution made by more traditional industries, according to the latest Quarterly Economic Report to the Council of Ministers. The report, which covers the period from 1 October to 31 December 2011, says many areas of the Island’s economy are performing robustly despite ongoing turmoil in western markets.

Export businesses and those with an international outlook are faring particularly well and are continuing to provide good job opportunities for Island residents. However, the report adds that sectors relying on domestic demand, in particular construction and retailing, are experiencing a difficult time with no immediate signs of an upturn in fortunes.

Chief Minister Allan Bell MHK said:

‘A strong economy is central to the rebalancing strategy outlined in February’s Budget, so it is absolutely vital that we look to develop our existing business base and attract fresh investment. Our policy of diversification is bearing fruit, and I’m encouraged by some of the success stories highlighted in the economic report.’

2011 was another impressive year for the gaming sector which now accounts for almost 10% of the Island’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The number of licence holders reached a new high, while statistics point to a total spend of £154million and tax revenue of £18.5m in 2011.

The space sector is also thriving thanks to a competitive tax regime, commercially attractive legislation and the Government’s ongoing commitment and support. The report states: ‘Commercial interest in the Island’s space industry continues to grow and will undoubtedly see further significant successes in the years to come.’

Manufacturing and aerospace engineering saw continued recruitment and investment, while the shipping and aircraft registers experienced further growth – the latter adding more than 100 aircraft during 2011. The economic report indicates that the Island’s banking industry performed ‘very well against the difficult backdrop of events’, and adds that:

‘The Island is well placed as one of the leading insurance domiciles. Its reputation as a well regulated and internationally responsible jurisdiction remains crucial to this success.’

In terms of generating important new revenue streams, the report highlights the huge potential of the Island’s clean-tech sector to attract new business. It says:

‘The key benefits include a location to trial technology, existing precision manufacturing to assist with developing new technology, and a location to protect and maximise financial benefit from intellectual property. No other Island jurisdiction has as strong a proposition and would find it difficult to replicate the Isle of Man offering if they attempted to do so.’

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