Northern Ireland's economy has performed strongly and has undergone a transformation since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement 25 years ago.

According to an analysis by the trade and investment firm, OCO Global, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has more than doubled from £19.8 billion in 1998 to £43.7 billion in 2020.

Average GDP per capita has also increased from £13,391 to £25,575, one of the biggest improvements of any UK region.

Exports have increased from £5.3 billion to over £12 billion with sales to the Republic growing by over £2.5 billion to £7.7 billion.

External investment, trade, tourism and infrastructure investment have all played a role in transforming the economic fortunes of the region, the report points out.

The population of Northern Ireland has grown from 1.68 million to close to 2 million people in the quarter century.

The average house price has increased from £63,000 in 1999 to £137,000 by 2019.

While Foreign Direct Investment in the manufacturing sector has declined, software investment in cyber, financial technology and analytics is on the rise.

Belfast based aerospace company Shorts was the biggest employer in 1997. The number one employer in Northern Ireland in 2019 was Tesco, followed by Moy Park and Queens University Belfast, the report notes.

"When I set up OCO in Belfast in 2001 there was a palpable sense of business confidence that as a region Northern Ireland was about to take off economically," Mark O'Connell, Chair of OCO Global said.

"In the intervening years there has been a global financial crash, a pandemic and more recently uncertainty caused by new post-Brexit trading arrangements. While these events may have coloured people's view, the truth is that the economy has been transformed for the better in the past quarter century," he added.

Mr O'Connell said the dual access to the UK and EU Single Market and Northern Ireland’s unique north-south and east-west relationships in the UK and Ireland presented the region with further growth opportunities.

However, he said it was necessary to double down on the achievements of the Good Friday Agreement.

"With the Windsor Framework offering substantial improvements to the operation of the NI Protocol, OCO forecasts that the local economy has the potential to grow by 50% to £66 billion (GDP) in the next decade," he explained.

Overseas visitor numbers to Northern Ireland have more than doubled from 1.3 million in 1998 to 3 million with the development of tourism trails related to history, culture and landscape growing exponentially.

146 cruise calls with 280,000 visitors were made to Northern Ireland ports in 2019 compared to just 2 with 1,050 visitors in 1998.