Northern Ireland business bodies in guarded welcomed for new Brexit deal

The north's business groups have cautiously welcomed the breakthrough on the EU and UK's Brexit negotiations
Ryan McAleer

NORTHERN Ireland business groups in the north have cautiously welcomed the breakthrough on a Brexit deal between the EU and the UK.

Tina McKenzie, who chairs the north's largest business body, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said the devil would be in the detail.

“On the face of it this deal provides Northern Ireland with tariff free trade with both the EU market and with the rest of the UK,” she said.

Former DUP Economy Minister Simon Hamilton, who is now chief executive of Belfast Chamber, said businesses have been consistently clear in their desire to avoid a no deal scenario.

“The announcement that the Prime Minister has reached an agreement on a deal with the European Union is encouraging,” he said. “Businesses in Belfast, like those across Northern Ireland, want a deal and an end to the uncertainty that has undoubtedly harmed our economy.”

Stephen Kelly of Manufacturing NI said the work could begin to discuss the nature of the future EU-UK trade relationship. He said while significant new trade frictions could arise, he urged MPs to approve a deal and escalate work to secure a long term free trade relationship with the EU.

President of the Londonderry Chamber, Brian McGrath said he was cautiously optimistic on progress: “We would urge all political representatives to back the deal to finally close down this disruptive period and to prioritise the regional economy in the North West and the wider development of Northern Ireland.”

Colin Neill of Hospitality Ulster echoed those sentiments: “Whilst the full details of today's deal are still being considered, we recognise that the future economic relationship with the EU will be largely settled during the forthcoming transition period.”

NI Chamber chief executive, Ann McGregor said avoiding a no deal was the absolute priority for businesses: “As companies carefully consider the real-world implications, our local politicians must do the same. We have been here before and there is still a long way to go before businesses can confidently plan for the future.”

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