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Major prospectus for economic growth launched by Trade NI

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Major prospectus for economic growth launched by Trade NI

Major prospectus for economic growth launched by Trade NI
May 26
10:00 2023
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A major new economic report seeks to provide a blueprint for economic growth and prosperity in Northern Ireland over the next 10 years and beyond. Trade NI, an alliance of three of Northern Ireland’s largest trade bodies – Hospitality Ulster, Manufacturing Northern Ireland, and Retail Northern Ireland – launched the paper recently to a reception of over 200 business leaders, senior cabinet ministers, over 65 embassies, 80 MPs, and policy makers at an event on the House of Commons Terrace in London.

‘A Region Transformed and Creating Prosperity For All: The Prosperity Dividend’, produced by accountancy and business advisory consultancy BDO NI, focuses on the economic transformation of Northern Ireland since 1998.  It examines how local industries, businesses, and high streets have been boosted by peace, prosperity, and greater stability. The report identifies key strengths of the Northern Irish economy and how these can be leveraged to deliver greater economic growth and prosperity in future decades for local communities and businesses.

Recommendations in the major economic paper include:

  • Creation of pathways to ensure our businesses have the people they need to deliver for customers, consumers and our economic opportunity.
  • More investment in our Universities and Further Education Colleges to increase the number of places and stop the ‘brain drain’ from Northern Ireland.
  • Giving businesses access to its Apprenticeship Levy money and establishing Northern Ireland as a pilot area for a “Skills Tax Credit” scheme to rapidly skill up industries and establish a new funding stream for public and private sector training.
  • Public Sector reform to reverse the region’s historic dependency on this sector and to capitalise on the potential of the current Public Sector workforce across the Private Sector instead.
  • A commitment that UK economic levers, whether that be in support for decarbonisation, childcare or economic zones reaches Northern Ireland, its businesses and communities.
  • Enhanced ground and air connectivity, abolishment of Air Passenger Duty and reduce hospitality & tourism VAT to make the region more accessible and attractive for both commerce and tourism.
  • Capitalising on our unique dual-market access trading position.
  • Overhauling the planning process to enable economic growth.
  • The creation of multifunction hubs incorporating businesses, libraries, community services, healthcare, education, homes and sporting facilities.

In a joint statement, the representatives of Trade NI, Glyn Roberts (Retail NI), Colin Neill (Hospitality Ulster) and Stephen Kelly (Manufacturing NI) said: “This is a blueprint for economic growth and prosperity for Northern Ireland. While it also looks back and recognises how far we have come over the past 25 years, our document is about a path to greater economic success over the next decade and beyond. We want Northern Ireland to be the very best place in the UK to locate, start and scale up a business.

“Northern Ireland has vast untapped potential. We have a skilled workforce, a steady pipeline of talent from our higher and further education institutions, dual market access, and emerging clusters in new industries like tech, cyber security, and health and life sciences. But there is so much more we can achieve if we get the fundamental building blocks in place.

“Things like ensuring political stability at Stormont, fixing our planning system to facilitate speedier construction of major capital infrastructure projects, investing in our educational institutions to ensure our workforce of the future has the right skills and competencies, capitalising on our dual market access, and reforming our public sector to remove our dependence on it.”

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris MP said: “Northern Ireland is a great place to live, work and do business, and this Trade NI report reflects its huge economic potential. The recent Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement anniversary events have shown the huge progress Northern Ireland has made in the last twenty-five years, and I am determined that the spirit of optimism of those events is seized for the benefit of all in Northern Ireland.

“With Northern Ireland’s strengths in key growth sectors, workforce expertise, the drive and creativity of its business community, and the benefits of the Windsor Framework providing a stable framework for the future, I’m confident it can continue to grow and thrive.

“I welcome the contribution that Trade NI have made to the debate on how to secure prosperity in Northern Ireland and I look forward to the continued opportunity to engage with their members on how the UK Government can help deliver the continued prosperity that Northern Ireland deserves.”


Pictured (left to right): Colin Neill (Hospitality Ulster), Stephen Kelly (Manufacturing NI), Glyn Roberts (Retail NI) and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris MP.

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