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Invest NI denies promoting protocol to foreign investors


Position: Kevin Holland says NI is attracting investors across the world

Position: Kevin Holland says NI is attracting investors across the world

Position: Kevin Holland says NI is attracting investors across the world

An agency funded by a DUP minister's department has denied using advertising to "specifically" promote the Northern Ireland protocol to foreign investors.

An advertorial by economic development agency Invest NI in Forbes India this month highlights Northern Ireland's selling points to potential investors - including dual market access to the EU single market and Great Britain under the controversial NI Protocol.

The piece lauds NI as a "buzzing business destination" but does not use the word "protocol".

Instead, it states that "the recent trade agreement between the UK and EU has positioned NI as a unique global business destination".

It qualifies the benefits by adding that "in the event that this two-way benefit plays out, it will culminate in jobs and prosperity in the region".

Invest NI's chief Kevin Holland has said that Northern Ireland's position is drawing international investor interest.

But unionists - including the DUP, party of Economy Minister Diane Dodds, whose department funds Invest NI - want the protocol scrapped on the basis that it erodes trade links between GB and NI.

First Minister Arlene Foster said it had closed off opportunities from Brexit. "I think that the protocol has prevented us from being able to take up those opportunities, particularly with our largest market, the GB market, and caused no end of suffering for many small businesses."

But deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill said the protocol was staying and had to be made to work.

Invest NI told the Belfast Telegraph it is "not placing any advertorials to specifically promote NI's post-Brexit circumstances".

"Paid-for advertorials have always formed part of our wider promotion of NI trade and investment opportunities in key international markets," it said.

"Factual information on the dual market access forms part of that wider messaging, alongside messaging about people, place and our business-friendly environment."

SDLP Foyle MLA Sinead McLaughlin, deputy chairperson of the economy committee, said she was pleased Invest NI was marketing the protocol's benefits.

"NI has real opportunities to be grasped through businesses here having open access to both the UK Internal Market and the EU Single Market," she said.

"However much most of us here hate Brexit, we do have the chance to create jobs, for example in the health and life sciences, renewable energy and advanced manufacturing sectors through dual market access.

"It would be absurd to ignore those advantages, or to get rid of them by junking the protocol.

"Even worse is for the Economy Minister to suggest to businesses considering investing here that the advantages we now have could be got rid of."

Belfast Telegraph

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