INVESTMENT SUMMIT: Investors 'see beyond low corporation tax rate' says minister

Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch (left) and Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris speaking to the media during the investment summit at ICC Belfast
Gary McDonald Business Editor

THE north presents "many unique opportunities" for investors beyond just a low rate of corporation tax comparable to the Republic, Belfast's investment summit has heard.

UK Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch described Northern Ireland as "one of the most exciting places to invest in the world, with its unique trading position and deep expertise in industries of the future".

And asked specifically about how overseas investors could be convinced to locate north, with its 25 per cent corporation tax rate, against setting up in the Republic, with half that rate, she insisted: "Businesses make decisions for many reasons".

She said: "Companies have only positive things to say about coming here, and I've been hearing from many who've found success here.

"Northern Ireland has many unique opportunities which the Republic of Ireland and the rest of Europe don't."

Quizzed on the ongoing lack of a functioning Stormont administration, Ms Badenoch added: "This is not an event for politicians. It's an event for business and for the people of Northern Ireland - people who want to work here and start businesses here and for all the people who live here.

"We are here to facilitate that and to make sure all the right people are in the room, and then we step out of the way."

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris said the conference - which is attended by 200 investors from across the world including the US, Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific - has been "really positive".

"When it was promised by the Prime Minister, I don't think anybody believed it would be as huge or as successful as it is already.

"People said it wouldn't work, that we'd be lucky to get a handful of people here. Yet we've 500 people in the room and had investors asking for extra tickets to come and benefit from what's going on here.

"There's been a remorseless focus on this investment summit. Businesses have voted with their feet to come here. It's a big deal and should be treated as such."

The conference kicked off with an announcement that professional services firm EY (formerly Ernst & Young) will recruit 1,000 new staff in Belfast and Derry on average salaries of £33,000, while Queen's University spin-out Ionic Technologies has secured funding to help it scale-up and create 100 jobs.