Biden says 'peace and economic opportunity' go together but holds off on trade talks

Thu 13 Apr 2023
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

President Biden campaign button over US flag

US president Joe Biden hinted that his country’s business community could support economic investment in Northern Ireland, but has so far avoided making any major trade announcements during his visit to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

Speaking at Ulster University, the US leader said that the next 25 years in Northern Ireland should be about economic growth and prosperity and “that peace and economic opportunity go together”.

Biden called Belfast “the beating heart of Northern Ireland” that could “drive unprecedented economic opportunity and investment”, reports the Guardian.

“There are scores of major American corporations wanting to come here, wanting to invest. Many have already made homes in Northern Ireland,” he added.

Tea but no trade talks

Biden met with UK prime minister Rishi Sunak early on in his tour.

The meeting was described as a "bi-latte" meeting due to its brevity as the two leaders met for a cup of coffee in a hotel, although UK sources rejected this description.

Sunak himself described the so-called special relationship between the two nations as being “in great shape.”

The PM has been invited to Washington in June, where they would discuss economic topics, reports the BBC.

However, the Telegraph reports that trade talks with the US won’t start until 2025 at the earliest, after the next US presidential election.

Biden has not yet formally announced his re-election campaign, while former president Donald Trump has announced his own bid to return to office.

Committed to NI

Biden emphasised US commitment to preserving peace in Northern Ireland, although his visit has been overshadowed by the fact that the power-sharing government is not functioning, reports the BBC.

The DUP have refused to participate in the Stormont government, citing concerns over the NI Protocol and Windsor Framework, leaving Northern Ireland without a fully functioning government.

The president met with leaders of all five major Northern Irish parties. Afterwards, DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson praised his comments, but said they did not “change the political dynamic in Northern Ireland”.

US hold back

Sunak has called on Stormont politicians to “get on with the business of governance”, reports the Mirror.

But the PM also recognised there is “work to be done” with the restoration of power-sharing institutions formed by the Good Friday Agreement.

Biden is now touring the Republic of Ireland and is expected to address Ireland’s parliament and meet his Irish counterpart Michael Higgins as part of a series of engagements.