Northern Ireland - Market News May 2014

According to the latest results from the Close Brothers Business Barometer, 37% of businesses that were asked said that they were more confident about business prospects for the next 12 months as upturn in consumer and business spending improves.

Overall, 25% of businesses in the UK and Northern Ireland state that they are being represented positively in international markets. In contrast, 40% claim that the government could do more to support the UK industry abroad. Echoing this is a study carried out by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Institute of Management Accountants, which found that businesses across Northern Ireland are struggling to tap into international trade opportunities, despite optimism about economic prospects.

However, despite general opinion that the Government could do more, UK ministers have recently been challenging a proposed Financial Transactions Tax (FTT). The controversial “Robin Hood” tax would see Britain collecting revenues for other European governments from taxes on transactions carried out in the City of London.

George Osborne’s original challenge of the new tax was rejected leading him to threaten further legal action. The Minister stated at a meeting of EU finance ministers, "It's not a tax on bankers; it's a tax on jobs, on investment, on people's pensions. That's why the United Kingdom does not want to be a part of it."

The EU Court of Justice stated that the original challenge from the UK was premature and rejected on the grounds that the details for the FTT have not yet been agreed. 11 out of the 27 EU states - Austria, Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain will adopt the tax and have agreed to begin enforcing the tax within two years.

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