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James Brokenshire 'positive' about Donald Trump bringing closer US economic ties

Donald Trump's plan to tax US companies who move operations abroad has led to fears Northern Ireland could miss out on investment
David Young, Press Association

Donald Trump's vow to heavily tax US companies moving operations abroad has not dented the British government's optimism about attracting fresh investment to Northern Ireland, the Secretary of State has said.

James Brokenshire said he remained positive about the potential for growing NI/US economic ties under a Trump White House.

The president-elect took to Twitter over the weekend to warn US companies they would be making an "expensive mistake" if they cost domestic jobs by relocating operations overseas.

He suggested they would be subject to a 35% tax if they tried to sell products made abroad back into the US.

Around 125 US companies operate in Northern Ireland, employing 24,000 people.

Asked about Mr Trump's protectionist rhetoric, Mr Brokenshire, who is in New York to meet with business representatives, said he would judge the incoming president on his actions.

"The US president-elect said during the campaign on equally doing a trading deal with the United Kingdom too," he said.

"So I think we need to judge by the actions of the presidency."

He highlighted that the UK and US's "strong and enduring" trading relationship was worth £200 billion.

"We both benefit from this strong relationship," he said.

"We want to see that continue into the future."

Mr Brokenshire added: "I remain positive and optimistic in relation to the new presidency as to the relationship we will have with President-elect Trump and his team."

On the potential of unease among US investors due to the Brexit process, Mr Brokenshire said he wanted to reassure them that the British government was adopting a "calm and careful" approach to the negotiations that will see Britain leave the European Union.

As well as briefing US investors and business leaders, Mr Brokenshire had scheduled meetings in New York with senior political figures.

Among them were former Senator George Mitchell and President of the Council on Foreign Relations Richard Haass - both of whom mediated past set-piece cross-party negotiations in Northern Ireland.

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