Nearly £12m of new funding for aerospace company Bombardier has been announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond during a visit to Northern Ireland, along with an invitation to bid for a Derry-Londonderry City Deal.
The investment is aimed at helping to secure long-term manufacturing jobs in Belfast, by funding the development of cutting-edge technology for modern aircraft.
Mr Hammond said: “This will help secure jobs for Northern Ireland’s economy and cement the UK’s role as a leading manufacturer of high-tech aircraft components.”
The Chancellor added: “Northern Ireland is leading the way within the UK in productivity growth.
“I want to support this progress by inviting a bid for a Derry-Londonderry City Deal, an opportunity for the region to continue to drive forward economic growth and build an economy that works for everyone.”
Local councils, universities and businesses will have the chance to submit plans to the government on their priorities for driving forward economic growth and boosting productivity.
The government is investing over £1.6bn in city deals in Scotland and Wales and is already in negotiations for a Belfast City Region Deal – the first City Deal in Northern Ireland.
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley said the announcement was a positive step in progressing a City Deal in the North West.
“It is a testament to the many local partners who have worked tirelessly for progress to be made,” she added.
“As Northern Ireland's second largest centre for economic growth, Derry-Londonderry plays a significant role in the region’s economic success.”
East-West relations are just as important as North-South relationsand just as central a part of the Belfast Agreement.
Northern Ireland has seen a 14.2% increase in productivity since 2010 – the fastest of all regions and nations of the UK.
However, Wednesday’s announcements come as the British-Irish Inter Governmental conference took place in London for the first time in over a decade.
The DUP has dismissed it as “a talking shop”.
Mr Hammond dismissed suggestions his visit to Northern Ireland was a distraction from what was happening in Westminster.
“The conference that’s going on in London is part of the standing arrangements under the Belfast Agreement and it’s very important that we honour the commitments that we’ve made those agreements and make sure that the working relationship continues,” he said.