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All Ireland co-operation vital to economic success

1 May, 2008

Co-operation will be vital to ensure the continued vibrancy of border economies, Sinn Féin deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness told Dundalk Chamber of Chamber of Commerce today.

Mr McGuinness, who was addressing a business lunch hosted by the Chamber, highlighted the importance of North South co-operation in the context of the slowing world economy.

"Achieving some of our economic goals may be a little more challenging in the short term as the economic outlook is not as favourable as it was six months ago." he said.

"Both economies on this island are facing global economic challenges. Co-operation can help us tackle these challenges. We must work together where practical to exploit any competitive advantage and to advance our international competitiveness.

"This is particularly relevant in the context of the forthcoming Investment Conference being hosted in Belfast next week where we will be welcoming leading executives from many US firms with a view to encouraging further foreign direct investment."

Mr McGuinness went on to welcome the recent establishment of the Emerald Infrastructure Development Fund.

"We warmly welcome the recent establishment of the Emerald Infrastructure Development Fund which will provide up to $750million for infrastructure development projects on both sides of the border and for 'green' projects in the US.

"The fund should bring positive benefits throughout the island by creating jobs and long-life assets necessary for sustained economic growth."

The Minister suggested that there may be merit in designating certain areas as Enterprise Zones to help encourage investment and stimulate economic growth. He said:

"There may be merit in designating particularly disadvantaged regions as Enterprise Zones. This would allow us to introduce targeted measures aimed at stimulating economic growth."

Mr McGuinness pointed out that the restoration of political institutions in the North provides an opportunity for greater North South economic co-operation:

"There are tremendous potential benefits to be realised through closer North/South co-operation, particularly for those in border counties."

The Minister went on to highlight areas where closer collaboration would be mutually beneficial; areas such as improved workforce skills and productivity; better transport links and improved public sector infrastructure.

The Minister stressed the importance of cross border trade to the local economy, he said:

"Over the last ten years we have seen cross border trade more than double. We need to continue this trend, promoting greater trade linkages between businesses North and South." ENDS

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