US delegates explore post-Brexit prospects in Northern Ireland

A U.S. business delegation sent to Northern Ireland by President Joe Biden on Thursday discussed opportunities created by the region’s tailored trade deals after Brexit, but members acknowledged the political impasse had sown some doubts.
The trade mission, announced by Mr Biden during a visit to Belfast in April, was intended to help sell what the president described as an “unprecedented economic opportunity” created by the region’s dual access to UK and EU goods markets under the Windsor Framework Agreement.

The February deal, however, has so far failed to convince the region’s largest pro-British party, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), to end its boycott of the regional power-sharing government over barriers remaining trade with the rest of the United Kingdom.

“I think people are enthusiastic. This trip has opened their eyes,” the United States’ special envoy to Northern Ireland, Joe Kennedy III, who is leading the delegation of around 50 executives, told reporters. Americans.

But he also said a stable government is important for people who plan to invest hundreds of millions or billions of dollars. “We have to get this done,” he said of efforts to restore the power-sharing system put in place by the 1998 peace deal.

The delegation included Coca-Cola CFO John Murphy, Liberty Mutual Insurance CEO Tim Sweeney and New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

But the New York State Pension Fund’s pledge to invest up to $50 million in Northern Ireland companies was the only major announcement of the trip.

One of the delegation members, Mark Anderson, chief executive of Alteryx Inc., said an expansion of his data analytics software business in the region was “something that’s definitely worth considering ” after Brexit threw “a little fuel on the fire” regarding the benefits of their London office. He added that political difficulties were not an obstacle.

February’s Windsor Agreement, which eases Northern Ireland’s access to the rest of the UK while leaving it in the EU single market for goods, is likely to create opportunities for manufacturers in particular, delegates said.

Some of the manufacturing companies who visited Northern Ireland were “intrigued by the unique market access”, Stephen Kelly, of trade body Manufacturing NI, told Reuters after hosting a session with delegates.

Around 230 American companies are present in the region. But south of the border, Ireland’s much faster-growing economy is more attractive to U.S. businesses thanks to decades-long business-friendly policies and a 12.5% corporate tax rate. , half that of the United Kingdom.

Speaking in Dublin, Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin said Northern Ireland could not fully seize the opportunities available to it in the absence of local government.

This article is originally published on zonebourse.com

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.