On Wednesday, Chamber Chief Executive Anna Doherty and Vice President Andrew Fleming travelled to London alongside colleagues from Trade NI, an alliance made up of Retail NI, Manufacturing NI and Hospitality Ulster.

During the visit, Trade NI launched the ‘Northern Ireland Building for Success’ report which sets out key Northern Ireland policy priorities for the next UK Government. Among some of the main recommendations raised within the paper were:

  • Apprenticeship levy refunds for those who pay it;
  • A Northern Ireland High Street Renewal Fund;
  • Veterinary Agreement negotiated with the EU to ease pressures with the Irish Sea Border and a ‘Trusted Destination’ for Northern Ireland;
  • A lower rate of VAT for hospitality, leisure, and tourism;
  • Introduction of a reciprocal UK/EU five year working visa that allows the best talent to flow between both regions and overcomes labour mobility challenges; and
  • Appointment of UK and EU special envoys for economic affairs, similar to the US.
Anna Doherty, CEO Londonderry Chamber; Emma Little-Pengelly, Deputy First Minister; Andrew Fleming, Vice President, Londonderry Chamber.

This is great work from Trade NI and we really hope the next UK Government takes these recommendations on board, to allow the entirety of Northern Ireland, including the North West, to flourish as well as we know it can.

However, the day of engagement was not solely about the launch of Trade NI’s paper, it began down by the Thames, with an event on the Terrace at the House of Commons. Some of the leading political figures from across the UK were in attendance listening to panel discussions and speeches explaining why Northern Ireland is a place with potential, and ready to grow.

Following on from this, there was a reception at the Irish embassy where Anna and Andrew had the chance to hear from the Irish Ambassador to the UK, Martin Fraser, Prof Cathy Gormley-Heenan, Provost, Ulster University, and Julie Galbraith, a Partner at DWF Group.

Anna Doherty; Prof. Cathy Gormley-Heenan, University Provost, Ulster University; Andrew Fleming.

Whilst in London, Chamber also met with BritishAmerican Business (the American Chamber in the UK) and also with the SME Chamber of the City of London. These meetings mean that the North West is always on the agenda in London, as a good place to invest, visit or live.

To top off this very busy day of engagement, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called a snap general election on 4 July… The atmosphere in London this week was certainly one of looking to the future, and the engagement carried out on Wednesday will ensure the North West is front and centre of that future.