Choosing between North/South and East/West trade isn't an option - NI businesses need both to prosper

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  • At today’s CBI Northern Ireland quarterly council meeting, leading figures from across the NI business community met to discuss the latest round of Brexit negotiations.

    The group expressed frustration that Monday’s EU/UK talks had yet again failed to result in progress towards discussing the future trade arrangements essential for building strong businesses, creating jobs and generating greater prosperity for all citizens across Northern Ireland. 

    Businesses are adamant that any proposed solution must guarantee seamless, frictionless trade both east/west and north/south to uphold the principles of the Good Friday Agreement and safeguard peace and prosperity.

    While many options have clearly been explored, companies are now seeking urgent clarity from government on how it intends to address this pressing issue. When asked whether they had sufficient clarity from government on how this could be achieved, a recent survey of CBI NI members found that 81% felt they were still in the dark.    

    Until there is a meaningful resolution, uncertainty will continue to loom over almost every aspect of doing business in the region

    Speaking at the meeting, CBI NI Director Angela McGowan said:

    “Business leaders are united – they want to see Brexit talks move onto the next phase as quickly as possible and are becoming increasingly impatient that negotiators can’t find a way through the deadlock on future trading arrangements, citizens’ rights and the financial settlement.

    “Prevarication is getting us nowhere, the people of Northern Ireland need clarity now. We find ourselves in serious danger of not only losing out on much needed foreign investment but of facing the real prospect of fantastic companies making the reluctant choice to move away from Northern Ireland.

    “Business needs a clear statement of intent from both the UK and European Union that the end goal is the seamless, frictionless trade both east/west and north/south that Northern Ireland needs to prosper. Choosing between one or the other is not an option.

    “If we’re serious in our ambition of becoming a modern, forward-looking and competitive economy, we absolutely have to get this right. It’s no dramatic overstatement to say that any misstep will put jobs and prosperity at risk. We’ve worked hard to secure the peace and stability we now enjoy – Brexit cannot be allowed to knock us off course.” 

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