'Genuine partnership' required to confront north's economic challenges says new CBI head
THE new regional chair of the CBI insists Northern Ireland's significant economic challenges can only be successfully confronted by a genuine partnership between business and government.
Trevor Lockhart, group chief executive of the Fane Valley agri-food cooperative, who has succeeded David Gavaghan into the lead role, says that with Brexit negotiations now well under way and reaching the crucial trade discussion phase, decisions made now will have an enormous bearing not only on the north's future prosperity, but also on its place in the global economy.
“But we also need to address some of the fundamental challenges facing the Northern Irish economy," he told his inauguration dinner in the Culloden Hotel.
"Access to skills, support for higher and further education, energy and waste policy, innovation and driving productivity are all essential to laying the foundations for a prosperous Northern Ireland.
“However, we can't achieve this alone. We need to work with partners and we require real political leadership to drive change. Bold decisions must be made and that's why it's imperative that we see an Executive, one with a shared vision for our local economy, restored as quickly as possible.”
CBI president Paul Drechsler, who visited Belfast to welcome Mr Lockhart to the chairman's seat, said: “Trevor is a real leader both within the agri-food sector and across the business community. He has extensive experience of working with partners across the UK, Europe and the island of Ireland and this expertise will be a huge asset to the organisation as we progress with crucial Brexit negotiations.
“I would also like to pay tribute to outgoing chair David Gavaghan, who has made such an outstanding contribution both in his role as Northern Ireland chair and as part of the wider CBI board.
"He is a passionate advocate for Northern Ireland and we're delighted he has agreed to stay on as CBI NI vice-hair to support Trevor, Angela McGowan and the rest of the team over the coming year.”