North/South Ministerial Council: Trade and Business Development

Part of Ministerial Statements – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 11:15 am on 15th December 2020.

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Photo of Diane Dodds Diane Dodds DUP 11:15 am, 15th December 2020

Those are huge issues for Northern Ireland. Fundamentally, the House should remember, when it thinks about the protocol and the interruption to the UK's internal market that it represents, which our Prime Minister instigated, that GB is Northern Ireland's biggest market by far. We sell more in the GB market than we do in the Republic of Ireland, the rest of Europe and the rest of the world put together, so any interruptions to that business will be very serious and very difficult. The announcements last week did help us with NI to GB trade and also helped us somewhat with tariffs. However, the best thing that can happen is that we have that zero-tariff, zero-quota deal so that we are able to trade freely in all directions; between GB and Northern Ireland, North/South and with the rest of Europe. That is massively important.

I took the opportunity last week to talk to the Northern Ireland Office Minister, Mr Robin Walker, about not just Northern Ireland's centenary — we are looking at promotional work for Northern Ireland in really important trade markets — but the £400 million funding that was announced. We should have a synergy between what the Northern Ireland Office is going to look at with that funding and what the Executive are looking at so that we can reskill and rebuild for the future.