We Should be a Pivot Point; a Centre for Trade

The world economy has been battered severely by the Covid-19 Pandemic. Lives have changed immeasurably, businesses have been severely restricted, and we have suffered and lost too many loved ones. It is clear that the impact of this Pandemic will be with us for many years, as will the Coronavirus that sparked it.

As we come out of the Pandemic, we will need an Executive-wide recovery strategy. Some would say this is to ‘build back better’, but I would say we need to build forward, to tackle our structural weaknesses, and build on our strengths.

Unfortunately, this does not seem to be recognised by the Departments supposedly leading on our economic development…

Indeed, one of the key weaknesses of our government here is the stubborn silo mentality; a reluctance to work together, and a lack of communication.

I understand that this is an emergency the like of which Northern Ireland has never seen before, but if we continue to simply react without a plan, we miss the opportunity to maximize the impact of spending, and cross-departmental working.

So, we need to have a comprehensive plan in place for job creation, upskilling and attracting the jobs of the future. We also need to adjust to the new economic reality we are facing post-Brexit, and the Pandemic’s impact on foreign direct investment and globalisation. This means selling Northern Ireland’s strong and unique advantages.

Northern Ireland holds a special position within the UK Market, but also the EU Single Market for goods. Instead of being a peripheral region in Europe, we should be a pivot point - a centre for trade.

As 2021 rolls on, there are numerous reasons to be optimistic, but we cannot simply sit by and wait for the invisible hand of the market to bring Northern Ireland back to prosperity, while our competitors press ahead.

We are in uncharted territory, so we need a plan for the future. A plan that delivers on hope for a better, greener, more inclusive and prosperous tomorrow.

Unfortunately, we have thus far been drifting…

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