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Stormont deal should encourage US firms to invest: Gary Hart

By David Young

The US Government will use its influence to push for increased American investment in Northern Ireland, according to peace envoy Gary Hart.

Writing exclusively for the Belfast Telegraph below, the former US Senator says that, in the wake of this week's Fresh Start agreement, the Obama administration "is eager to encourage US businesses to visit Northern Ireland, talk to public officials and the business community, and explore opportunities for investment, production, and marketing."

And Mr Hart, the personal representative of US Secretary of State John Kerry, identified a lower corporation tax rate as a key tool in convincing overseas businesses to locate here.

"A key to this effort, as before, is successful lowering of the corporate tax rate in just over two years' time, which represents a significant factor for attracting jobs-generating direct investment, including from the US, Northern Ireland's biggest foreign investor," he wrote.

The special envoy's business-focused remarks come in the context of a broad welcome for the Fresh Start agreement announced on Tuesday.

The deal contained agreements on several issues including welfare reform, ridding the region of paramilitaries and corporation tax. On Wednesday, the Assembly voted to allow the Government to roll out its welfare reforms in Northern Ireland.

Making a statement on the deal in the Commons yesterday, Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said it represented a "step toward a brighter, more secure future for everyone".

On the difficulties of establishing new bodies to deal with legacy issues, Ms Villiers added: "We did establish common ground between the parties on a range of significant questions on how to establish those new structures, but, sadly, not enough to enable legislation to go forward as yet. The Government continues to support these provisions because of the pressing need to provide better outcomes for victims and survivors - who we must never forget have suffered more than anyone else."

Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Vernon Coaker welcomed the latest deal to save the power-sharing administration as "another breathing space".

Belfast Telegraph


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