Trade NI – the new alliance between Hospitality Ulster, Manufacturing NI and Retail NI is expected to launch it’s 10-year plan entitled ‘Vision 2030’ later today at a major business reception at Westminster, asserting that now is the time to break the cycle of limited economic growth.
Over 350 guests are confirmed to attend the event that will be addressed by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Julian Smith MP and the shadow Secretary of State, Tony Lloyd MP. This is the largest ever delegation of the Northern Ireland business community to visit Westminster.
In addition, the Irish Embassy will be hosting a working lunch (12.45pm) and Downing Street hosting an evening reception (6.30pm) for many of the visiting business leaders.
The transformative economic plan will set out key policy priorities that have the potential to create 65,000 jobs and to make Northern Ireland a high growth economy.
Trade NI, made up of the three largest sectors of industry and the majority of businesses in Northern Ireland employing around 300,000 people collectively, has said that any incoming Northern Ireland Executive must set out to increase the productivity of the NI workforce; reduce the regulatory burden on businesses; increase the skills base; and deliver a clear economic strategy for Northern Ireland.
The group has consistently raised significant concerns around the increased cost of doing business and the complexities created around Brexit uncertainty and the two-year hiatus of the Assembly and Executive at Stormont.
Key Priorities from the Trade NI Vision 2030 plan include:
- A sustainable economy where growth is stimulated by enhanced productivity resulting from investment in education and skills, supported by responsible consumption and production.
- A competitive economy that provides a uniquely supportive environment for doing business.
- A global economy that is visible and attractive to the outside world with an infrastructure which supports local, national and international connectivity.
- An economy supported by revitalised communities where people want to live, work and visit.
In a joint statement, the representatives of Trade NI, Colin Neill (Hospitality Ulster), Stephen Kelly (Manufacturing NI) and Glyn Roberts (Retail NI) said “Northern Ireland is facing a huge challenge as it struggles politically and economically with a growth forecast of around 1% or below. This is simply not good enough and we can’t sit idly by and let events overtake us. We must break the cycle of limited economic growth.”
“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.”
“We need to be bold and ambitious about creating 3% or even 5% growth over the next few years, but that requires decision makers to be pressed into action and a series of policy and legislative decisions to be taken and driven through. Our local economy and businesses have taken a back seat and we simply cannot afford that situation any longer.”
“Our Vision 2030 document sets out a bold new ten-year plan for creating 65,000 new jobs and creating a high growth economy. We want to make Northern Ireland the best place in the UK and Ireland to shop, socialise, locate and start a business”
“The Vision 2030 plan sets out to create a better functioning business environment and attract further inward investment that will lead to a revitalised economy taking on the challenge in turbulent times.”
“We want to make Northern Ireland an eco-system of innovation.”
“Trade NI is keen to work with all business organisations, chambers of commerce, trade unions and voluntary sector representation to create a new progressive partnership for change in Northern Ireland.”
They added: “We are expecting a huge turnout today at Westminster from the Northern Ireland business community and elected representatives from right across the political spectrum with a vested and keen interest in ensuring that Northern Ireland is placed on the right path after several years of stagnation.”
“We are not isolated from the fact that this report has been launched at a time of political upheaval. Our day of engagements in London should send a clear signal to our own MPs, wider elected representatives and the British and Irish Governments that the economic health of Northern Ireland must be a priority.”
Kevin Kingston, Chief Executive of Danske Bank, sponsor of Trade NI’s Westminster reception, said:
“Danske Bank is proud to be one of the main sponsors of Trade NI’s Westminster reception. Trade NI is seizing the initiative and ensuring that the voice of the local business community is being heard loud and clear at a time of upheaval and uncertainty.”
“The vibrancy of the Northern Ireland private sector is imperative to the strength of our economy and we need to ensure that local businesses are protected and well positioned to be able to compete globally in the post-Brexit environment.”
Emma Gilthorpe, Executive Director, Heathrow Expansion added: “Heathrow is delighted to support the launch of Trade NI, echoing Heathrow’s commitment to connect Northern Ireland to global growth and to share the benefits of an expanded Heathrow with the businesses and communities of Northern Ireland.”
Reacting to the launch of the economic report by Trade NI ‘Vision 2030 – A Ten Year Prosperity Plan for Northern Ireland’, Brian McGrath Chief Executive of Foyle Port said: “This innovative and fresh-thinking from Trade NI comes at a crucial time for Northern Ireland. The ambitious and comprehensive blueprint published today has the potential to transform the NI economy and map out a successful and thriving future for business in NI.”
“Between Brexit and the lack of a functioning Assembly, politics in Northern Ireland is in a state of paralysis. Trade NI provides a strong, collective voice for local business and has already begun preparing for the future. This creative alliance is a unique opportunity to fully address the economic difficulties currently felt in Northern Ireland.”
“Foyle Port commends the new alliance and is eager to be an important partner to help transform the NI economy. This document clearly outlines the policy and legislative developments that must take place to ensure we can revamp local industry, create and sustain well-paying jobs, and balance our economy so it can flourish over the next decade.”
Lisa Bryson, Partner at Eversheds Sutherland, one of the key sponsors for the Westminster event, added: “The development of this bold and transformative blueprint has the potential to create jobs and drive the economy for a decade. The launch of this plan in the face of Brexit and a General Election is significant and we commend Trade NI on this innovative and forward thinking approach.”
“It is apparent to all that the ongoing political paralysis and economic stagnation that has been experienced in Northern Ireland over the past number of years has limited the potential which exists for wider business community. This coupled with the uncertainties thrown up by Brexit in terms of the free movement of people have implications for the current workforce and employers that must be urgently addressed.”
“There are many pieces of the jigsaw to be assembled to get us on the right path, but we are greatly encouraged by Trade NI clearly identifying the policy development and legislative changes that need to take place that are vital for job creation and economic prosperity in Northern Ireland.”
Sponsors of the Trade NI Westminster NI Engagement Day include
- Heathrow Airport
- Danske Bank
- Foyle Port
- Eversheds Sutherland
- Belfast City Council
- Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council
- Mid & East Antrim Borough Council
- Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council