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Investment will allow Northern Ireland businesses to prosper

Brandon Lewis and Michael Gove

NI Secretary Brandon Lewis and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove on how they will help NI economy


Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press E

The enterprise, excellence and energy of the people and businesses of Northern Ireland are recognised not just across the United Kingdom but the world.

Whether it is family-owned firms like Ulster Carpets we're visiting today, Bushmills whiskey-making at the world's oldest licensed distillery, or the diagnostic pioneers at Randox, Northern Ireland has a long, proud and enduring tradition of impressive and innovative industries.

Enterprising businesses like these are the backbone of Northern Ireland. Their success reflects the progress made by Northern Ireland's people since the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement was signed 22 years ago.

The era of peace and reconciliation that subsequently took root helped support existing businesses and allowed new firms to flourish. We want to build on this progress for the future and ensure there is no place for a return to the violence and divisions of the past.

NI businesses benefit from the stability and strength of the UK as well as the unique links they enjoy with our friends and neighbours in Europe. That is why we are committed to implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol in a way that respects and protects Northern Ireland's special circumstances and its integral place as part of our United Kingdom.

So today, as well as confirming our commitment to around £300m for the PEACE Plus programme over the next seven years to support ongoing peace and reconciliation projects on the island of Ireland, we are also announcing a major package of investment and support to help Northern Ireland's traders.

We want to make sure that businesses in Northern Ireland have the information they need to prepare for next year and to thrive beyond it.

As we set out in our approach to the Protocol published in May, Northern Ireland, as part of the UK's customs territory, will continue to have unfettered access to the rest of the UK. Trade in goods on the island of Ireland will also continue unaffected - with no change at the border, no new paperwork, and no tariffs or regulatory checks. And as we conclude free trade agreements with other nations, Northern Ireland's businesses and citizens will benefit from those too, and the lower tariffs that come with them.

To help traders prepare, we have been engaging closely with, and listening to, the business community in Northern Ireland, for example through our Business Engagement Forum.

Today we are setting out further online guidance for how goods will move into and out of Northern Ireland. Our new free-to-use Trader Support Service, backed by up to £200m of funding, will also deal with all of the formalities on behalf of traders importing goods from Great Britain or the rest of the world.

Ahead of the service going live next month, firms can register their interest from today. It will be supported by a £155m investment in the technology that will deal with goods movements, ensuring that the process is streamlined to the maximum possible extent.

Today's guidance is not the final word: there will be further details to come as we continue to work with businesses and progress discussions with the European Union. However we hope these new resources, and the launch of the Trader Support Service in particular, will help traders to continue their preparations for the end of the transition period.

Today's announcements will help support the many thousands of diverse businesses across Northern Ireland as they continue to showcase and sell their innovative products across the rest of the UK and the world.

They will also further ensure that the hard won gains of the peace process and the progress made over the last 22 years are secure, not just next year, but for generations to come.

Belfast Telegraph