06/02/2020

Trade NI Sets Out Plan To Boost NI Economy

Local business leaders have united to call on the newly formed Executive to rejuvenate Northern Ireland's economy.

Huge global investment opportunities with the potential to create 65,000 jobs and ensure a highly developed economy exist for the region, according to Trade NI.

MLAs and business leaders were this week reminded of the key strategies required to achieve this, as set out in the organisation's Vision 2030 document.

Trade NI is an alliance between Hospitality Ulster, Manufacturing NI and Retail NI and employs around 300,000 people collectively. It held its first major conference entitled 'Northern Ireland Economy – What Now?' at Stormont's Long Gallery on Tuesday 04 February.

The organisation is fighting to have its voice heard in the Programme for Government and continues to advocate for business rate reform as local firms pay higher rates than anywhere else in the UK.

This was the first major policy presentation by the business groups to the newly restored Assembly, sponsored by the Economy Minister Diane Dodds MLA and the Chair and Vice Chair of the Assembly Economy Committee.

The group stressed that the restored 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 reception at Parliament Buildings followed on from a series of high-level political engagements in September, which included the launch of Vision 2030 in Westminster with an audience including the Secretary of State and MPs from across the UK and a reception with the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.

In a joint statement, Colin Neill of Hospitality Ulster, Stephen Kelly of Manufacturing NI and Glyn Roberts of Retail NI said the "big, bold, radical" ten-year plan can provide the policy direction for the new Executive's Programme for Government.

"We must break the cycle of limited economic growth and allow for potential outward investment to flow into Northern Ireland," the business chiefs said.

"The high cost of doing business in Northern Ireland, such as business rates must be immediately addressed by this Executive. It is a scandal that businesses in Northern Ireland pay the highest rates in the UK.
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"Our Vision 2030 document sets out a plan to reboot the Northern Ireland economy and for the potential to create 65,000 new jobs.

"Providing an environment where business can thrive, and grow is imperative to the strength of our economy. Reducing the cost of doing business, reforming business rates, investing in our infrastructure, developing skills, increasing our productivity and finding innovative new ways of stimulating investment, revitalising our high streets and creating an economy, which can deliver for working families.

"The new Executive Programme for Government needs to be more than just a deal between five parties and instead should also include the key partners in the economy, such as business, trade unions, local councils and the voluntary sector. We shouldn't be seen as just consultees, but as essential partners in the delivery of prosperity for Northern Ireland."

Chair of the Economy Committee, Dr Caoimhe Archibald MLA said: "We welcome the Vision 2030 document as it represents the basis for engagement between the Executive and the business community on their concerns and priorities following the restoration of the Assembly under 'New Decade, New Approach' document.

"Vision 2030 puts forward range of policies and proposals on key issues which aim to improve productivity and support economic growth.

"The Committee for the Economy looks forward to engaging with Trade NI on the issues outlined in Vision 2030 and to develop the economic potential of the North."

Sinead McLaughlin MLA, Deputy Chair of the Economy Committee added: "Trade NI is to be commended for developing this suite of economic ideas for Executive to draw on as it shapes the next Programme for Government. Vision 2030 reflects the business community’s desire to hit the ground running and bring forward a number of ideas immediately.

"At its meeting last week, the Economy Committee discussed how the regional economy encompasses all of Northern Ireland and any economic policies must be balanced for the whole region. Areas outside of Belfast like the North West also have vibrant retail, manufacturing sectors to sustain and grow.

"The Economy Committee has highlighted that there are only two years left of this sitting Assembly, and we must use that to make an impact."



(JG/CM)

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