Rene­go­ti­at­ing deal will cause fur­ther un­cer­tainty, claim busi­ness lead­ers

DUP leader tells them to ‘stop wast­ing time’

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - Front Page - BY RYAN MCALEER

BUSI­NESS lead­ers have said the DUP’S call to rene­go­ti­ate the EU with­drawal agree­ment will spell more un­cer­tainty for firms in North­ern Ire­land.

Speak­ing af­ter meet­ing 30 busi­ness del­e­gates who back the deal in Stor­mont yes­ter­day, Ar­lene Fos­ter said it is doomed to fail when it goes be­fore MPS on De­cem­ber 12.

“Busi­nesses want cer­tainty there­fore they should not waste the next few weeks in ad­vance of the mean­ing­ful vote, es­pe­cially when many par­lia­men­tar­i­ans have al­ready made up their minds to re­ject the deal,” said the DUP leader.

Labour shadow Brexit sec­re­tary Keir Starmer sug­gested yes­ter­day that if the deal is voted down, it could force the Govern­ment and EU to agree to ex­tend ar­ti­cle 50 in or­der to stop a no deal sce­nario.

Stephen Kelly of Man­u­fac­tur­ing NI said busi­nesses are not closed to the idea of rene­go­ti­a­tion. But he said it would re­quire more time, mean­ing de­lay­ing the Brexit process.

But CBI di­rec­tor An­gela McGowan said the busi­ness com­mu­nity is “des­per­ate” to move on.

“There is no ap­petite among CBI mem­bers to go back to square one in terms of the EU ne­go­ti­a­tions,” she said. “Con­tin­ued Brexit un­cer­tainty is al­ready af­fect­ing firms’ in­vest­ment in­ten­tions, resulting in changes to com­pa­nies’ sup­ply chains and, in some in­stances, jobs mov­ing.”

The chief ex­ec­u­tive of the NI Cham­ber, Ann Mc­gre­gor, said busi­nesses can­not face “the chaos of a messy and dis­or­derly exit from the EU next March”.

She ap­pealed for MPS to “keep the mil­lions of firms and fam­i­lies try­ing to plan for the fu­ture at the fore­front of their minds over the next num­ber of weeks”.

Ul­ster Univer­sity econ­o­mist Es­mond Birnie has sug­gested that although it would re­sult in a longer tran­si­tion pe­riod, rene­go­ti­a­tion could be more ben­e­fi­cial in the long-term.

But writ­ing in to­day’s Busi­ness Tele­graph, Danske Bank chief econ­o­mist Conor Lambe said: “The best that can be hoped for dur­ing the Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions is to min­imise the ex­tent of the dam­age to the econ­omy.”

While he said it was not per­fect, he added: “I con­sider the draft with­drawal agree­ment reached a cou­ple of weeks ago to be a pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ment.”

There is no doubt that the draft With­drawal Agree­ment is a wel­come step for­ward for the ma­jor­ity of busi­nesses in NI and it is def­i­nitely much bet­ter than a no-deal sce­nario. Our trad­ing firms will be pay­ing close at­ten­tion to what hap­pens next.

The agree­ment is a sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone in the po­lit­i­cal process of Brexit, and is clearly a per­sonal achieve­ment for the Prime Min­is­ter.

As she vis­its NI to­day, it is the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to high­light how her re­silience has been matched only by that of busi­nesses chal­lenged by three years of non-stop po­lit­i­cal de­bate and con­tin­u­ous un­cer­tainty. This is not a great en­vi­ron­ment for en­trepreneurs and in­ward in­vestors try­ing to grow their busi­nesses and pro­vide much needed em­ploy­ment.

We now en­cour­age our po­lit­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tives who sup­port the agree­ment to do ev­ery­thing in their power to in­flu­ence po­lit­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Bri­tain to join them. They must be per­suaded to put the econ­omy ahead of po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tion.

It is time to sup­port the gen­eral di­rec­tion of the agree­ment and use the tran­si­tion pe­riod to fo­cus on the de­tails.

For those that are not in sup­port of the draft agree­ment, it is now time to out­line your al­ter­na­tive pro­pos­als.

Any new pro­pos­als must en­sure that NI has un­fet­tered ac­cess to mar­kets and a busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment con­ducive to growth in­clud­ing ac­cess to skills from across the globe. Busi­nesses ac­knowl­edge that this agree­ment, and the pro­posed back­stop mech­a­nism, are not the in­tended per­ma­nent solutions.

Since the With­drawal Agree­ment was pub­lished, NI Cham­ber has re­it­er­ated its views with the Prime Min­is­ter and the Sec­re­tary of State Karen Bradley, and yes­ter­day busi­ness or­gan­i­sa­tions con­tin­ued their en­gage­ment on the deal via meet­ings with the DUP, Sinn Fein, SDLP, Al­liance Party and Green Party, with fur­ther meet­ings sched­uled with the UUP.

As an or­gan­i­sa­tion whose aim is to help grow the NI econ­omy, NI Cham­ber’s over­ar­ch­ing mes­sage is clear — we must grow the pri­vate sec­tor — not shrink it.

There­fore busi­nesses can­not face the chaos of a messy and dis­or­derly exit from the EU next March.

As we await what­ever out­come be­fore Christ­mas, with peo­ple’s liveli­hoods, their jobs and the fu­ture prospects for many com­pa­nies in the bal­ance, we ask that par­lia­men­tar­i­ans keep the mil­lions of firms and fam­i­lies try­ing to plan for the fu­ture at the fore­front of their minds over the next num­ber of weeks.

Byan­n­m­c­gre­gor, Chiefex­ec­u­tiveof thenorth­ernire­land Cham­berof­com­merce andin­dus­try

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.