Promoting dual market access to investors part of new Department for the Economy strategy

Invest NI is working closely with the Department for the Economy on potential FDI opportunities created by the Irish protocol.

THE Department for the Economy (DfE) is working closely with Invest NI and foreign direct investment (FDI) specialists to identify potential opportunities from Northern Ireland’s dual market access under the Irish protocol.

A new trade strategy published today by Economy Minister Diane Dodds states “detailed consideration” is being given to the impact of the new trading arrangements at a sector-specific level.

The report states it “will inform a new international investment proposition for Northern Ireland”.

The ‘Trade and Investment For a 10X Economy’ is the latest in a series of documents published by DfE outlining the department’s economic strategy for the next decade.

In basic terms, the latest strategy seeks to increase exports from Northern Ireland companies and attract more inward investment.

But the paper in some way reveals the challenge within the DUP-led department in relation to the new post-Brexit protocol arrangements.

It states the new checks on goods have created additional burdens for businesses and consumers, which it says “are neither proportionate nor sustainable”.

It calls on the EU and UK to address issues “including the friction in the movement of goods from GB to Northern Ireland”.

But in terms of FDI, the strategy document acknowledges that securing inward investment in a post-Covid world will be more challenging than ever before.

It says Northern Ireland needs “a strategic reset” in its approach to FDI, which may involve “difficult decisions” about where resources are allocated.

“We will need to double down on investment promotion, with a well-defined and well-articulated pitch for investors.”

Part of those efforts appear to be exploring how Northern Ireland’s unique new status under the protocol could attract investors seeking a foothold in both the EU and GB markets.

DfE states that alongside its own analysis, it is working closely with Invest NI and external global FDI specialists “to identify potential FDI implications (opportunities and challenges) of our new trading arrangements, including the potential attractiveness of GB and EU dual market access to investors”.

It adds: “This involves detailed consideration of the impact of new arrangements at a sector-specific level and will inform a new international investment proposition for Northern Ireland. “Where opportunities exist we will seek to work with businesses and investors to exploit them in a planned, strategic way.”

The Economy Minister said in early May that Invest NI had identified over 30 new potential inward investment opportunities since the introduction of the protocol, which are currently at an early stage of exploration.

The new paper was launched by Diane Dodds in what is expected to be her final day as Economy Minister.

New DUP leader Edwin Poots is due to reshuffle his ministers on Tuesday, with Mervyn Storey and Paul Frew tipped as the potential replacement for Ms Dodds.

Discussing the new strategy paper, Diane Dodds said: “In simple terms, we want to sell more and attract more high-value inward investment for the benefit of our businesses and our people.

“We will work with our delivery partners to sharpen our focus on the markets, clusters and technologies of opportunity to make that happen.”

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