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New Northern Ireland economic zone could be Hong Kong of Europe, says Londonderry businessman

By Staff Reporter

One of Londonderry's leading business figures has welcomed the thinking behind the reported new post-Brexit plans for Northern Ireland.

Brendan Duddy said it was a solution that could transform Northern Ireland from a "backwater" to Europe's version of Hong Kong.

David Davis was reported to be copying the "double-hatted" model in place in Liechtenstein, which would allow the province to operate both UK and EU regulations at the same time.

A 10-mile wide "special economic zone" would be created along the 310-mile border, within which local traders could operate under the Republic's trade rules.

Mr Duddy said: "This was actually something I suggested the day after the Brexit vote, which is to be all things to all people.

"This could be the biggest economic opportunity for Northern Ireland.

"I want to be European and Irish and there are people who want to be British and I have no problem with them being British.

"People in Northern Ireland voted to absolutely to remain in Europe, so the way to square that circle is to say 'Yes' to everybody."

Mr Duddy said that the ideas could create a half-way house between Europe and America.

He said: "Why should someone who lives in Surrey or Basildon decide what we are?

"If they want to be not European, that's up to them, but the people of Northern Ireland very clearly voted to be Europeans.

"The disaster that could be coming at us in all of Northern Ireland, but especially in border towns, could be turned into an opportunity.

"I think this is workable, but I don't think special status is the right term.

"I think it would give us opportunities to create economic advantages in our area instead of being a backwater."

He added: "Look at Hong Kong when it became a special island on its own between Asia and Europe, it has boomed from being a rock no one was interested in."

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