Thursday, 7 March 2019

Ceisteanna (39)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

39. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if her Department and the agencies under her remit have ongoing contact with their counterparts in Northern Ireland for the protection of business and employment in the Border region, both North and South, due to the uncertainties that have arisen due to Brexit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11232/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

Minimising the impact of Brexit on cross-border trade and employment is a key priority for the Government. We are doing our utmost to protect the interests of those companies that are engaged in business activities on both sides of the border.

InterTradeIreland (ITI) – one of the six North/South Implementation Bodies established under the Good Friday Agreement – is jointly funded by my Department and its counterpart in Northern Ireland, the Department for the Economy (DFE). Given its mandate to develop North South Trade, ITI is particularly well-placed to assist businesses in preparing for the challenges associated with Brexit, and officials in my Department are in regular contact with their DFE counterparts to ensure the body is supported and equipped to carry out this important work. My Department provided an additional €1 million to ITI this year, which will enable the body to engage with more companies seeking support through its Brexit Advisory Service, as well as meeting demand for existing programmes which are all designed to promote and support cross-border trade.

Enterprise Ireland (EI) have a longstanding collaboration with their equivalent agency in Northern Ireland, Invest Northern Ireland (INI). There is regular contact between the two agencies on a range of policies and initiatives that support business and employment in the two jurisdictions. Over the past two years there has been more specific contact and cooperation on Brexit supports. In addition, EI, INI and ITI meet regularly to facilitate inter-agency coordination and cooperation.

IDA Ireland and INI, meanwhile, are competitors for foreign direct investment, which therefore makes practical opportunities for ongoing cooperation more limited. However, the two bodies do cooperate with another in the context of regional and all-island economic development.

More broadly, the Government is focused on maintaining mutually beneficial relationships on enterprise development and trade with our counterparts in Northern Ireland. We continue to work towards an outcome that will maintain the closest and most positive possible trading relationship between the UK and Ireland following Brexit.