Posted on Wednesday 19 June 2019 by John Mulgrew
Northern Ireland’s newest trade body alliance will take its message to Westminster later this year amid the ongoing political vacuum at home and with Brexit on the horizon.
Trade NI is an alliance between Hospitality Ulster, headed by Colin Neill, Manufacturing NI, Stephen Kelly, and Retail NI, Glyn Roberts, and aims to represent a wider swathe of Northern Ireland’s private sector amid the “paralysis” surrounding a lack of Executive and therefore a lack of local political voice on the UK’s exit from the EU.
The group will take its message to London on September 11, hosting an event to once again bring together politicians, businesses, stakeholders and the media to raise awareness of the issues and challenges facing companies here.
The alliance, which has been supported by the likes of Heathrow Airport, Danske Bank and Flybe, outlined its aims at its launch in the Cathedral Quarter, Belfast, to an audience of business leaders from across Northern Ireland.
“Northern Ireland is facing huge economic and political challenges ahead with Brexit, no Assembly, and a rapidly changing global economy,” the group said.
“Trade NI will seek to give leadership on behalf of our three sectors and provide new policy solutions to creating a modern local economy.”
“The paralysis that has been created with the lack of an Assembly and Executive has developed a situation where very little has been done to address the needs of our sectors or the economy at large.
“The shift of power from Stormont to Westminster means that we must press decision makers there to implement policies and make legislative changes that will help grow Northern Ireland. Our local economy and businesses have taken a back seat and we simply cannot afford that situation any longer.
“Our three organisations represent most of the businesses that make up private sector jobs in Northern Ireland. Therefore, a louder voice needs to be heard on their behalf so that they don’t suffer in the wake of the local political issues. We want a reboot of the economic policy of Northern Ireland, in order to benefit our economy and safeguard our growing business community.”
“Last year we held a NI business reception with over 250 people that brought together the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, MPs, lords, ministers and key political influencers in Westminster to bring focus to Northern Ireland issues.”
“This was a great opportunity to be able to discuss the key concerns of the business community with national political decision makers and help them understand the priorities needed for Northern Ireland, and to promote Northern Ireland as a great place in the United Kingdom to locate or start a business.”
Kevin Kingston, chief executive of Danske Bank, the main sponsor of Trade NI’s forthcoming Westminster reception, said that “Northern Ireland has a strong business community and should be considered across the United Kingdom as a thriving business hub for the global market”.
“The vitality of the private sector is imperative to the strength of the Northern Ireland economy. We must ensure Northern Ireland businesses are well positioned to be able to compete in the post-Brexit environment. We will continue to work alongside the Trade NI alliance and other key influencers to make sure that Northern Ireland, as a constituent part of the United Kingdom, remains a key priority at Westminster.”