Leading industry bodies in the north launch new Trade NI alliance

Pictured at the launch of Trade NI are: Conor Lambe, chief economist, Danske Bank; Colin Neill, Hospitality Ulster; Stephen Kelly, Manufacturing NI; Glyn Roberts, Retail NI; and Ken Harrower, country manager, Ireland Flybe .

THREE leading trade bodies in the north have come together to create a new working alliance.

Hospitality Ulster, Manufacturing NI and Retail NI jointly launched Trade NI in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter yesterday.

The new group aims to provide leadership on behalf of the three largest sectors of industry and the majority of businesses in the north, as well as provide policy solutions to facilitate a modern local economy.

In a joint statement, the representatives of Trade NI; Colin Neill (Hospitality Ulster), Stephen Kelly (Manufacturing NI) and Glyn Roberts (Retail NI) outlined the challenging environment the three industries must contend with.

"Northern Ireland is facing huge economic and political challenges ahead with Brexit, no Assembly, and a rapidly changing global economy," they said.

"The paralysis that has been created with the lack of an Assembly and Executive has developed a situation where very little has been done to address the needs of our sectors or the economy at large.”

“The shift of power from Stormont to Westminster means that we must press decision makers there to implement policies and make legislative changes that will help grow Northern Ireland. Our local economy and businesses have taken a back seat and we simply cannot afford that situation any longer.”

“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."

“The alliance wants 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," the statement continued.

As the official launch yesterday Trade NI extended an invitation to the wider business community in the north to a Westminster reception it is hosting at the House of Commons on September 11.

Last year Hospitality Ulster, Manufacturing NI and Retail NI jointly held a business event at Westminster, attended by over 250 people, including the secretary of state, MPs and Lords, in an effort to bring focus to Northern Ireland issues.

This year's reception has been organised to ensure Northern Ireland remains on the agenda at Westminster and will also act as the platform for the launch of Trade NI's 'Northern Ireland 2040' document, which sets out a new, long term vision for the economy.

Kevin Kingston, chief executive of Danske Bank, the main sponsor of Trade NI's forthcoming Westminster reception added:

“Northern Ireland has a strong business community and should be considered across the United Kingdom as a thriving business hub for the global market.”

“The vitality of the private sector is imperative to the strength of the Northern Ireland economy. We must ensure Northern Ireland businesses are well positioned to be able to compete in the post-Brexit environment."

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