NI Chamber sets out business manifesto ‘prioritising more prosperous economy’

‘Mission: Business Growth’ document launched at UU in front of audience of business and political leaders

General election
NI Chamber chief executive Suzanne Wylie launched the organisation's ‘Mission: Business Growth’ manifesto at an event in Ulster University

The north’s biggest and oldest business body has set out its priorities ahead of the July 4 general election in a manifesto it insists looks to “a prosperous, productive and competitive economy which serves business, society and the next generation better”.

The NI Chamber of Commerce has placed better working with government at the top of its wish list, recommending a number of practical reforms which it says will help develop a better shared understating of both challenges and strengths.

An it has also prioritised a new ambitious long-term fiscal framework for the region which supports the Executive to stabilise public spending and unlock sustainable economic growth.

The NI Chamber, founded more that 200 years ago, boasts a membership of 1,200 businesses, representing more than 100,000 employees, says its ‘Mission: Business Growth’ manifesto prioritises the Westminster-based policy levers which best support economic growth in Northern Ireland.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called a General Election for July 4
Prime minister Rishi Sunak outside No10 confirming that the general election will take place on July 4 (Lucy North/PA)

The document - created along with Stratagem and developed in partnership with member businesses and trade bodies in a variety of sectors - was launched in front of an audience of business and political leaders at Ulster University.

The Chamber has also called for strategic interventions which strengthen the north’s competitive proposition including support for dual-market access, tackling the corporation tax question and sector specific asks for high-growth industries such health and life sciences, advanced manufacturing and digital and creative industries.

As well as a series of practical supports, the document calls on government to work with business to tackle near market red tape in trade with Britain, Ireland and Europe.

With wider geo-political uncertainty, it also asks for greater collaboration between the UK and Europe in meeting common challenges including energy and climate change, health and wellbeing and food security, specifically calling for an ambitious SPS agreement.

With access to people and skills a persistent challenge, the organisation has specific requests for the next government regarding access to international talent and cross-border workers, including an all-island mobility taskforce, reform of the apprenticeship levy and action on tax free childcare.

Chamber chief executive Suzanne Wylie said: “I believe this is a thoughtfully and constructively curated document prepared with one mission in mind – a prosperous, productive and competitive economy which serves business, society and the next generation better.

“The collective aspiration of business leaders across Northern Ireland is a stable and flourishing economy; one which is sustainability funded and supported by government policies which deliver clarity and certainty for investors and indigenous firms alike.

“Business wants to play a pivotal role, investing and innovating alongside a UK government which is committed to delivering in partnership. Developed in consultation with our members and partners, our recommendations are designed to incentivise innovation, improve productivity and enhance Northern Ireland’s reputation as a global leader.”

‘Mission: Business Growth’ lists its top priorities under six categories:

  • A renewed partnership - Better working with government
  • A new fiscal framework - A new ambitious fiscal framework for Northern Ireland
  • Building a competitive proposition - Enhancing Northern Ireland’s reputation as a global leader
  • Growing beyond these shores - Access to international markets
  • Reducing near market red tape -Easing access to our nearest markets
  • A workforce and workplace of the future - Creating sustainable working environments