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North West businesses urge Executive to take advantage of NI’s unique post-Brexit trading position

A new survey has found that 80% of Londonderry Chamber members want the NI Executive to take advantage of Northern Ireland’s unique trading position introduced by the NI Protocol.

Two-thirds of respondents said the Protocol was having either minimal or no effect on their business, with 17% stating it presents an ongoing challenge, but they were coping.

When asked how the North West can capitalise on new trade rules, members suggested the introduction of a robust marketing campaign highlighting Northern Ireland’s dual access to UK and EU markets to attract foreign investment and job opportunities.

45% of respondents also sought a targeted information campaign on a sectoral basis to support businesses. However, respondents said that post-Brexit trading arrangements were causing an increase in paperwork and supply-chain issues especially with GB suppliers.

Londonderry Chamber President Dawn McLaughlin said:

“These survey results highlight the untapped potential that our new trading position has for the benefit of the Northern Irish economy. There is a serious opportunity to position Northern Ireland as a location ripe for investment and growth. It is imperative that the Executive now produces a workable, strategic plan to take advantage of our unique access to EU and UK markets going forward.

“However, this survey also shows that Brexit is still posing difficulties to many North West businesses. While the NI Protocol is better than a no-deal Brexit, it still presents challenges for our local businesses. With four in ten firms experiencing an increase in paperwork, and the same number experiencing supply-chain issues, the Executive must work with the UK Government and the EU to iron out these issues to protect North West businesses. A particular focus must be given to GB suppliers whose lack of action continues to pose problems.

“As a border region, the North West is ideally located to make the most of the new arrangements, straddling the UK and the EU as we do. With a strong and committed marketing campaign which sells the benefits of our unique status on the global stage, we can attract significant investment, employment and business opportunities to the North West economy. Businesses are flexible and pragmatic by their very nature and many of them just want to make the best of the new trading arrangements we face. It’s crucial that the Executive meaningfully engages with them, providing clear, targeted information to support them going forward.

“In the last 12 months, the pandemic and Brexit have posed significant challenges to North West businesses. Just as the Executive has supported local businesses in Covid recovery, Ministers must now begin to maximise the opportunities afforded to us by the Protocol and capitalise on them to support our economy’s recovery effort.”