Belfast Telegraph

Summit follow-up call to boost local economy

G8 nations are urged to create champions for promotion of trade

By Margaret Canning

ECONOMIC champions should be appointed by each G8 country to secure the legacy of the event by promoting trade with Northern Ireland, it's been claimed.

The Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce said such figures could promote bilateral trade and investment, emulating the achievements of former US Economic Envoy Declan Kelly.

Chamber president Mark Nodder said Northern Ireland already had strong links with each of the G8 countries, and had cultivated specialisms in financial technology, data analytics, manufacturing, agri-food and aerospace.

It had many attractions to international business. "As an English speaking country with a highly trained workforce and lower operating costs than many comparable regions, we are an attractive option for potential investors.

"Our ministers are embarking on trade missions to countries such as Brazil, China and America in order to seek further investment and this is crucial in spreading the word about what Northern Ireland has to offer, opening up new markets for our companies and putting the province on the radar screen of potential inward investors."

But he said that the G8 presented a unique opportunity for countries to see first-hand how the province had evolved in recent years and to see the potential it harboured.

"We therefore need to harness the benefits that the G8 summit will provide us with and use these for the good of the Northern Ireland economy well into the future. It is essential that we maintain these relationships once the summit is over in order to leave a G8 legacy.

"Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce therefore calls for each of the countries to commit to appointing an economic champion to promote bi-lateral trade and investment between their country and Northern Ireland."

The main role of the champions would be to build relationships with their country and the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Invest NI and other business organisations.

"The achievements of Declan Kelly, the former US Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland, were an example of what could be achieved.

"Declan Kelly helped the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly, Invest NI, and the business community make Northern Ireland one of the best per capita attractors of investment in the world.

"If each leader agrees to appoint an economic champion then we can secure bi-lateral trade and investment between Northern Ireland and these countries for years to come."


What they said...


Colin Walsh, Vice-Chairman CBI Northern Ireland:

"This is a unique opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland to world leaders and the world's media. Having this event in Northern Ireland highlights the progress that has been achieved over the years.

"I hope the short-term benefits – estimated at several tens of millions of pounds – created by the G8 summit will be exceeded in the longer term through the catalytic impacts on tourism, trade and investment. Northern Ireland's future economic success will increasingly depend on a greater international focus and stronger political and business relationships. The world will watch with interest as these leaders work together to address the significant challenges facing the world's economy with a particular focus on trade, tax and transparency."

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland:

"Hosting the G8 summit offers an unprecedented opportunity to showcase Fermanagh and Northern Ireland, as well as to promote Northern Ireland as a top destination for high-level events and conferences. The international media profile accompanying the G8 is enormous and the ensuing publicity will help us achieve our goal of boosting visitor numbers."

Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry:

"I believe that our selection as host sends a message about the high level of confidence which now exists both in and about Northern Ireland. It is a fundamental endorsement of the progress made and a powerful recognition that we are now fundamentally plugged into the global economy."

Belfast Telegraph