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General Election result piles more uncertainty on Northern Ireland business: Chamber of Commerce

By Margaret Canning

The shock result in the general election has managed to pile more uncertainty on the world of business, the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry has said.

It said business was already facing tricky issues including a shortage of skilled workers, currency fluctuations and Brexit.

But the prospect of a hung Parliament after no party managed to achieve an overall majority had achieved the “unlikely feat” of making matters worse.

Ellvena Graham, chairperson of the Northern Ireland Chamber, said a speedy formation of a government “that can give businesses confidence around both economic management and Brexit negotiations, must be the absolute top priority”.

And in Northern Ireland, parties must resume talks in order to restart devolved government.  “It is now time to put the Northern Ireland economy first.”

“Whilst there are many positive developments in the Northern Ireland economy, we also have challenges in terms of long term unemployment; low levels of export compared to other UK regions; a shortage of funding for infrastructure development and a serious shortage of skills.

“We therefore need the Northern Ireland Executive to reform, agree a final Programme for Government, an economic strategy and establish a single Northern Ireland action plan on Brexit to address key business concerns.”

And she said it remained crucial that there is no hard border with the Republic following Brexit. 

“This would be a major setback in economic, social and political relations between Northern Ireland and its neighbour.”

And she said Northern Ireland’s 18 Westminster MPs now needed to support the priorities of a City Deal for Belfast, the abolition of air passenger duty and a cut in corporation tax.

“Overall, business and government need to work more closely together than ever before, to develop the mutual confidence needed to overcome the challenges posed by the Brexit transition, to unlock the economic potential of Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, and to seize the opportunities beyond.”

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