Business leaders welcome Northern Ireland agreement

Gateway to Ireland

Business organisations in the North West, and nationally, have welcomed the proposed agreement on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Known as the Windsor Framework, the deal may help to avert a trade war and smooth relations between Britain and the EU, and has been especially welcomed in the North West.

The deal includes a “green lane” for goods traveling from Britain to Northern Ireland that are destined to stay there, with minimal checks; while an “emergency brake” for the Stormont assembly will block new EU trade rules being applied in Northern Ireland.

In a joint statement coordinated by Best for Britain, 78 business leaders, including former Siemens UK  chief executive Jürgen Maier, and Emma Degg, chief executive of the North West Business Leadership Team, and Bruntwood chief executive Chris Oglesby, voiced their support saying the deal would be welcomed by businesses across the UK struggling with challenging economic conditions and that it can mark a new chapter in UK/EU relations.

“As representatives of the business community we welcome the successful conclusion of UK/EU negotiations over the Northern Ireland Protocol and voice our support for the settlement that has been reached,” the statement said.

“This agreement will be of greatest significance to the people of Northern Ireland but its positive impact for businesses large and small, in every corner of the country, and for the UK economy as a whole should not be underestimated.

“For businesses and their customers, struggling in difficult trading conditions, this deal represents welcome pragmatism from all sides and upholds the level playing field with our closest and largest trading partners. It demonstrates what is possible when we engage in constructive dialogue and work in the common interest with our European neighbours.

“It can and should mark the beginning of a new chapter in UK/EU relations, one built on trust, mutual respect and shared prosperity.”

Chris Fletcher, policy director at Greater Manchester Chamber, said: “On the face of it this appears to be a positive step forward in resolving part of the original Brexit deal that always felt unfinished and rough around the edges.

“Anything that helps promote smoother trade has to be welcomed and whilst a lot of the finer details will need further scrutiny it does feel as though this will help many businesses that have been frustrated and baffled by the rules in place over the last two years. We have been approached by a lot of businesses still unsure as to what the requirements are for trading with  Northern Ireland and hopefully this will help with clarity.

“Of course this is still a far cry away from the smooth, frictionless  trade we took for granted before Brexit and even though this latest deal helps with the current level of administration for businesses,  it is still a long way away from what more businesses are asking for now which is a return to the way that trade used to be with easy to understand and implement admin and logistics and an ability to maximise profitable trade opportunities with our nearest overseas market.”

William Bain, head of trade policy at the British Chambers of Commerce said: “The BCC has long been calling for a negotiated solution to the trading difficulties caused by the initial version of the protocol.

“Businesses in both Northern Ireland and Great Britain have been calling for a considerable reduction in checks and documentary requirements to move everyday goods across the Irish Sea. We will be closely considering the legal texts and their full implications, but this appears to be a positive step toward achieving this goal.

“The Green Lane proposal should offer a green light to future prosperity in Northern Ireland. But more broadly businesses in the UK will welcome the potential for stabilising relations with the EU. There is now the potential to move to a new phase of co-operation on trade, regulation, climate, migration and supply chain issues. With the UK economy teetering on the cusp of a recession this could help drive growth for both Northern Ireland and the UK more widely.

“We hope the UK Government, EU member state governments, and the EU institutions will seize this opportunity to improve our relationships, cut costs and remove red tape for exporting businesses.”

Tony Danker, CBI Director-General, said: “Congratulations to the UK Government and European Union for resolving the deadlock over the Northern Ireland Protocol and delivering an historic deal. With social, political and economic life in Northern Ireland feeling like it has been on hold for the past couple of years, this breakthrough will allow businesses and politicians to turn their attention to economic growth and delivering greater prosperity for everyone across Northern Ireland. Business stands ready to work with all stakeholders moving forward. Work to understand and successfully implement new arrangements should start immediately. Working together we can make this deal work and help Northern Ireland to thrive.”

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