Manufacturing investment of £22m to create 300 jobs in North
Business leaders campaign for ‘Northern Ireland origin status’
(Centre) Alastair Hamilton of Invest NI and Stephen Kelly of Manufacturing NI with (from left) David Nicholl of NC Engineering, Armagh; Alan Stewart of Marcon Fit-Out, Antrim; Dave Smith of Principal Cooling, Tyrone; Joe McGirr of The Boatyard Distillery, Fermanagh; and Ross Armstrong of Armstrong Medical, Co Derry
New investments by 30 manufacturing firms in the North are expected to deliver £22 million (€24.9m) to the economy and create nearly 300 jobs.
The vote of confidence in the Northern Ireland manufacturing sector takes place as local business leaders prepare a campaign to persuade decision-makers in Europe to introduce a special “Northern Ireland origin status” post-Brexit.
According to Stephen Kelly, chief executive of industry group Manufacturing NI, which is one of the five organisations driving the campaign, it aims to highlight “Northern Ireland’s special position between the UK and Europe”.
“We’re trying to anticipate and mitigate as much as possible the outcome for Northern Ireland when the UK leaves the EU and potentially the Customs Union. For us in Northern Ireland a hard border with the EU would have significant consequences, not just for businesses and cross-Border trade but for everyone in Northern Ireland, across every community,” Mr Kelly said.
Business groups believe if Brussels were to give goods and products made in Northern Ireland a special status then it would distinguish them from the rest of the UK.
“We would argue that because of this special status then Northern Ireland could further negotiate that any goods or products manufactured in Northern Ireland would also be free from any new tariffs or customs arrangements post-Brexit.
“We know the EU is open to trade deals – it has a free-trade deal, for example, with South Korea. What we want to do is find an EU-approved solution for Northern Ireland manufacturers that would effectively remove the need for Border checks and customs.”
Mr Kelly said manufacturing played a huge role in the Northern Ireland economy, generating annual sales approaching £20 billion (€22.6bn) and directly employing 80,000 people.
Meanwhile, the chief executive of Invest NI, Alastair Hamilton said the decision by the 30 manufacturing firms to reinvest in the North, with financial support from the government agency totalling £1.9 million, highlights a “real commitment” in their future in the North.
Linwood’s in Armagh, Marcon Fit-Out in Antrim, Tailored Image in Tyrone, The Boatyard Distillery in Fermanagh, Donite Plastics in Down and Armstrong Medical in Derry are among the investors creating additional jobs in the North.