Metro Mayors lead trade delegation to increase business links with Ireland


Trade and cooperation links between the North West and Ireland will be boosted later this month.

The mayors of both Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region will lead a visit to Dublin for meetings and events with political leaders, trade officials and businesses from Britain and Ireland on March 28-29.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, and his Liverpool counterpart, Steve Rotheram, will be travel with a Department for International Trade (DIT) delegation of 15 exporting businesses. DIT Minister for Exports, Mike Freer, will also join the group in Dublin to support the initiative.

The mayors will hold meetings with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, and Enterprise Ireland CEO Leo Clancy, and take part in a roundtable with the British Irish Chamber of Commerce.

Greater Manchester, the Liverpool City Region, the Irish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the DIT will commit to further efforts to deepen cooperation between Ireland and the North West, which is set to include regular visits each year.

Exports of goods to Ireland from the North West amounted to almost £2bn in 2019, with Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region accounting for around half of this total.

The visitor economy in both city regions is worth around £10bn, with Irish visitors among the most frequent, while Ireland is one of the North West’s biggest tourism destinations.

Andy Burnham said: “I am so pleased that Mayor Steve Rotheram and I will be leading this joint mission to Ireland and Northern Ireland later this month.

“The ties that bind the island of Ireland and the North West are deeply embedded in our communities and our places. This visit will be all about taking that relationship forward, and looking at those shared priority areas – like climate action, digital innovation, and culture and sport – where we can work more closely together for the benefit of our people and our economies.”

Steve Rotheram said: “I’m really excited by this historic trade delegation that Andy and I are leading to help the North West to forge a stronger, more prosperous future for people on both sides of the Irish Sea. We not only have a rich and intertwined past, but a shared set of future priorities, too. On renewable energy, trade, investment, culture, innovation and much, much more I’m looking forward to working with colleagues to help our region grow.

“Ireland is a really important trading partner for our area. More than 600 local businesses export over £300m of goods, with a further 400 importing, too. It’s a fantastic foundation, but I want us to do better. I hope that this delegation marks another important chapter in our relationship with Ireland.”

British Ambassador to Ireland, Paul Johnson, said: “There are strong links between the North West of England and this country, which the Embassy wants to help bolster, including as part of the Government’s Levelling Up agenda and our commitment to developing the trade and wider relationship with Ireland, a crucial partner for all of the UK.”

Ambassador Adrian O’Neill, Ambassador of Ireland to the UK, said: “The visit presents an excellent opportunity to celebrate the longstanding ties of people, trade and friendship between Ireland and the North West of England and to broaden and deepen our existing connections. We are very proud to have opened a new Irish Consulate General for the North of England last year and welcome the enhanced links that are already flowing from the on the ground presence of our Consul General Sarah Mangan and her team.”

Sarah Mangan, Consul General of Ireland for the North of England, is accompanying the two mayors and said : “Their extensive programme, covering so many sectors, and with a number of high level meetings, is a reflection of the depth of cooperation that currently exists between Ireland and the North West of England, as well as of the opportunities that the Consulate General hopes to build on in the future.”

The mission will be followed by a visit to Northern Ireland on 30 March, where the mayors will meet with the Lord Mayor of Belfast and take part in events focused on joint working in priority areas like net zero action, energy, transport, and skills.

Greater Manchester has invited Belfast to attend a Decarbonisation Summit in the city region in June, at which the Liverpool City Region will also be represented.

Last year saw the opening of the Consulate General of Ireland for the North of England, based in Manchester.