Positive all-Ireland economic debate needed
Writing today in An Phoblacht newspaper, Sinn Féin General Secretary Robbie Smyth responded to Reg Empey's call for a review of the role of cross border body InterTradeIreland, which was set up as part of the Good Friday Agreement.
UUP member Mr Empey called for a review of the body's role after it released figures showing an increase of north south trade in Ireland, saying he found the figures "very disturbing".
Mr Smyth said:
"Trade between the Six and 26 Counties was worth €500 million in the last quarter of the year and overall has doubled in the last ten years. However, promoting north south trade is only one element of InterTradeIreland's activities, which includes creating north south-partnerships. Recently, such work included establishing Bio med Ireland, Expertise Ireland and an all-island micro enterprise committee. InterTradeIreland's publications and studies are providing valuable and hitherto unavailable information to businesses on the island economy. Such publications include a review of the horticulture industry, which was published earlier this year, and the InterTradeIreland Guideline's for Business publications, which provide detailed information on VAT and Financial incentives for businesses seeking to operate cross border.
"It is worth noting that Mr Empey also said last week in a separate statement that, 'In the forthcoming negotiations it will be essential to ensure that any further agreement with regards to establishing a devolved government will need an economic dimension'. In particular, according to Mr Empey was the issue of 'huge infrastructure deficits' which 'will need to be resolved if we are to ensure our long-term competitiveness'. In this context he is quite rightly pointing up the growing infrastructural deficit in terms of inadequate British Government spending in the Six Counties, which must be urgently addressed.
"Reg Empey is also making an important point in saying that the economic dimension must be part of the September talks. This should be in the context of an all-Ireland dimension.
"In terms of the infrastructure deficits, while increased spending is a must, so is planning energy, road, rail, telecommunications, health and education spending and investment on an island wide basis. In terms of trade, the creation of a one currency and one tax regime on the island would also be a significant step and needs to be put on the agenda as to how we can justly develop such proposals.
"So in that context maybe we could review InterTradeIreland and Invest Northern Ireland and the other development agencies on the island. Building an economy on the island that can provide jobs and quality of life for all is a difficult task and needs careful discussion for all of us."ENDS