NI trade summit brings 100 investors to region ahead of Windsor Framework implementation

Mon 14 Aug 2023
Posted by: Danielle Keen
Trade News

Person speaking at conference

Anticipation is building ahead of the Northern Ireland Investment Summit which will welcome delegates from around the world to Belfast from 12–13 September.

Led by the Department for Business and Trade (DBT), alongside the Northern Ireland Office and Invest Northern Ireland, the event represents a significant opportunity for Northern Irish businesses to demonstrate their potential on the world stage, with over 100 international investors already confirmed.

The summit will showcase Northern Ireland’s technological strength, with sectors such as financial and professional services, advanced manufacturing and engineering technology highlighted. It will also emphasise the region’s cultural charm, showcasing what great place it is to live and work.

Building excitement

Business leaders and trade experts have high hopes for the region’s future as a trade hub, particularly following the Windsor Framework agreement which was secured by UK prime minister Rishi Sunak earlier this year.

Stephen Kelly, chief executive at Manufacturing NI, said anticipation was high among his organisation’s 550 members:

“We’re very excited. There’s going to be more than 100 delegates from across the world – the US, Australasia, Europe, as well as Ireland and the UK.

“It’s an opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland for what it is, a unique place to trade with the UK and the EU, and we’re confident that the delegates will be able to see the opportunities this presents.”

Paul Brooks, the head of the UK nations and regions team at the Institute of Export and International Trade (IOE&IT), echoed this positive message, while reflecting on the possibilities for other UK regions:

“It’s great to celebrate all that’s good in Northern Ireland, from a sector and sub-sector perspective. Each region in the UK has something to offer and it would be great to see other similar initiatives in other devolved nations and regions.”

Reflecting on what the event means for Northern Ireland more broadly, he added:

“It’s been 25 years since the Good Friday Agreement and this is a great opportunity to reflect on the progress that has been made and how much Northern Ireland’s economy has grown in that time.”

Challenges

The summit precedes the autumn implementation of the Windsor Framework – the agreement signed by Sunak alongside European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen earlier this year. The new framework is designed to iron out issues raised by the Northern Ireland Protocol, such as customs requirements on trade between Great Britain and the region, as well as a reduction in sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) checks.

Adaptable

The framework received a tentative but ultimately positive reception from the UK’s business community when announced in February, but the changes represent the second major regulatory shift for the region in less than three years.

Despite this, Kelly is confident that Northern Irish businesses are prepared and highly adaptable. He said:

“There are complications moving goods out of Great Britain, but we have been doing this for two and a half years. There is an added burden but there’s also opportunity on offer and, as all good manufacturers and businesses do, they will capture that opportunity.”