Government should urge firms to invest in NI

A leading international trade expert has said there is a unique opportunity for the UK government to position Northern Ireland as the UK’s gateway into EU markets for GB based businesses who are having significant challenges accessing their core customers in mainland Europe.

Gareth Hagan of international trade and investment company, OCO Global
Gareth Hagan of international trade and investment company, OCO Global

Gareth Hagan of international trade and investment company, OCO Global believes the UK government can play an important role in supporting GB companies to develop bases in Northern Ireland, as opposed to setting up operations in mainland EU.

The Belfast based advisor said that this would be a win-win scenario not only for Northern Ireland but for the UK government and GB businesses, with any investment supporting regional development and providing a practical solution for GB businesses to access EU markets.

The call follows media reports of the UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT) advising EU-facing businesses in GB to set up in Europe which ultimately results in investment leaving the UK.

However, Gareth Hagan has warned that this potential dividend for Northern Ireland must be supported by renewed efforts to address the continued challenges of the NI Protocol.

Commenting on the opportunities for Northern Ireland he said: “The loss of single market access is an obstacle for many companies in GB who for decades have traded freely with the markets within the European Union. As companies seek to pivot and adapt to this new challenge, Northern Ireland must be recognised as a viable alternative especially given its dual market access to the UK and EU”.

“However, stability is key for any investor when making a decision to enter a new market or region and the challenges with the protocol have created a level of uncertainty. If policymakers and legislators can focus minds and overcome the present impasse it will certainly help to ease the current anxieties.

“Northern Ireland’s unique proposition could make it a pivotal location for those businesses seeking to service two of the world’s largest markets and a commitment by the government to support this targeted investment would support its innovative strategy to reboot local economies, by seeding and harnessing growth and job opportunities in regions throughout the UK.

“This approach would also present long-term opportunities for GB based businesses with the dual market access seeing companies remaining an integral cog in the UK customs territory, alongside this businesses have the added benefit of access to future trade deals that the UK government negotiates. And several new trade deals are horizon with the UK negotiating with lucrative markets such as the USA, Australia and New Zealand.

“The complexity and disruption brought about by the new UK-EU deal has been brought to bear in the early proceedings and many companies have already began plotting their next move. To avoid losing investment and jobs to the EU, the UK government must act now to position Northern Ireland as its own EU hub and the next year will prove to be a crucial period for action.”

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