Aidan Gough, Designated Officer and Director at InterTradeIreland, has told Business First, “Last year was a period of great uncertainty for firms, with discussions around Brexit, combined with the impact of Covid-19, creating uniquely challenging circumstances. Brexit has now happened and a Trade and Cooperation Agreement has been reached by the EU and the UK. For cross-border trade, the Northern Ireland Protocol heralds welcome clarity and means no customs arrangements or additional paperwork on trade in goods.
“However, there may still be changes to the cross-border trading relationships with agreements in areas such as services, data transfer, product conformity and assessment, as well as mutual recognition of qualifications still to be negotiated, while businesses will also have to carefully scrutinise supply chains in light of the new agreement.
“InterTradeIreland will continue to provide and develop its advisory support and funding service to help firms adapt to the new relationship, as it continues to evolve. Looking ahead to 2021, the unparalleled challenges around Covid remain and we will continue to provide practical support through our E-merge and Emergency Business Solutions programmes.
“Since our inception just over 20 years ago, InterTradeIreland has generated €1.4/£1.28 billion in business development value, supporting over 17,000 jobs and assisting over 46,000 companies. As we enter our third decade in existence, there continue to be many value-laden opportunities for cross-border co-operation to deliver mutual economic benefits.
“This is particularly true in growth areas such as life and health sciences, advanced manufacturing and adjustment to a low carbon future.
“After recently securing the green-light from Ministers on both sides of the border for our latest Corporate Plan, we will focus on facilitating the development of these opportunities, as well as providing cross-border support that will help firms embrace the exciting opportunities presented by industry 4.0.
“In the short-term, however, our priority will be assisting firms manage the transition to a new cross-border trading relationship as it continues to evolve and supporting economic recovery through leveraging cross-border collaboration and opportunities.”