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Brexit goes under microscope at Belfast manufacturing conference


Speaker: Mary Meehan

Speaker: Mary Meehan

Speaker: Mary Meehan

A major manufacturing and supply chain conference, which is expected to attract around 2,000 people, takes place in Belfast today.

And the impact of coronavirus on the supply chains of manufacturers dependent on China is expected to come up at the Northern Ireland Manufacturing & Supply Chain Conference & Exhibition.

The Titanic Exhibition Centre event will be a forum for manufacturers and operators to gather to discuss pressing issues facing their industry, organisers said.

The conference features free workshops, speakers and exhibitors including government agencies and supporting organisations.

Speakers include Invest NI chairperson Rose Mary Stalker, Manufacturing NI deputy chief executive Mary Meehan and Aidan Conaty, the founder of TCI China, who will discuss the risks and rewards for Northern Ireland food companies doing business in China.

Experts will also be offering free advice - with Brexit set to be a major topic.

The organisers added: "A panel of experts has been assembled to provide practical advice now that the implications of Brexit for Northern Ireland businesses and their supply chains are becoming clearer.

"In addition to the challenges posed, the summit will also highlight some of the opportunities."

Brexit stage speakers will include Frankie Devlin, a partner at KPMG specialising in indirect taxes, who will discuss the impact of Brexit on customs and VAT for businesses.

Solicitor Paul McMahon will discuss Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol and Digitorc digital protection consultant Michael Spratt will talk about post-Brexit personal data transfers.

Other trade events are also taking place under the banner of the main conference, including an expo on 3D Printing, a Brexit summit, and a food and drink manufacturing conference and exhibition.

An event on automation and robotics will provide visitors with practical advice and demonstrations on how to improve day-to-day business operations.

Others issues include the rapid pace of technological advances in areas such as Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and robotics.

Speakers will also consider environmental concerns and intensifying competition, both domestically and internationally.

Manufacturing generates annual sales of around £20bn a year in Northern Ireland and indirectly supports over 214,000 jobs. Accounting for almost two-thirds of all exports, it makes up one-third of the Northern Ireland economy, according to trade body Manufacturing NI.

Key sectors include food, engineering, transport, technology, building products, fabrics, polymers, packaging and renewables.

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