Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Eurozone crisis could eventually work to our advantage

With unemployment standing at 17% for our 18- to 24-year-olds and topping 7% for the rest of us, we clearly need some good economic news.

So, at the risk for sounding like Pollyanna, let me try to try to find the silver lining in the travails of the eurozone.

With hindsight, keeping us out of troubled currency union may have been Gordon Brown's greatest economic achievement.

The current efforts of Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel (left) to hold the euro together may even work to our advantage.

If they achieve their aim of harmonising their corporation tax rates by 2013, the pressure will be on other countries using the currency to follow where the big two lead - or risk losing bailout funding. If we do succeed in dropping our corporation tax rate to 12%, or lower - well below France, Germany and perhaps other eurozone countries - we will have a unique selling-point to attract much-needed overseas investment.

We will have access to European markets, but without the high business taxes and highly valued currency that normally goes with it. It may not be a cure for all our ills.

But it is something for the politicians to focus on when they get back from their holidays.

With Northern Ireland holding the wooden spoon as the worst-performing regional economy in the UK, we can't afford to miss any opportunity.

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