Tuesday, 6 March 2007
Dáil Eireann Debate
133. Ms McManus asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the progress being made in negotiations with the British Government relating to a North-South enterprise policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8355/07]
Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Mr. Martin): The Good Friday Agreement set out a new vision for the island of Ireland. As both North and South face the common challenges and opportunities of a globalised marketplace and continuing the transition to a knowledge economy where science, technology and innovation are vital to economic success, it is appropriate that we should jointly address those challenges and opportunities where there is mutual benefit to be achieved. To be globally competitive we must exploit and realise the opportunities of all-island collaboration.
There is ongoing co-operation between my Department and the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment in Northern Ireland on enterprise issues. Both Departments co-sponsor InterTradeIreland, the all-island trade and business development body established under the Good Friday Agreement. Since 1999, InterTradeIreland has shown the benefits of all-island business collaboration. It has promoted the development of the all-island economy to the mutual benefit of North and South and it is implementing significant initiatives to enhance the global competitiveness of the all-island economy.
My Department provided significant input to a ‘Comprehensive Study on the All-Island Economy’, which was commissioned by the British-Irish InterGovernmental Conference to identify areas for enhanced North/South co-operation. This blueprint for all-island economic co-operation was completed towards the end of last year and sets out the economic rationale for North/South collaboration, as well as concrete proposals for economic initiatives. These initiatives include interventions to support research and development and the development of the knowledge economy; co-operation on trade and investment promotion; and enhanced co-operation in support of enterprise and business development.
The proposals to enhance co-operation are currently being implemented, in the areas of trade and investment promotion, including the opening up of trade missions, whether sponsored by Enterprise Ireland or Invest Northern Ireland, to companies across the island. The services of the overseas offices of Enterprise Ireland and Invest Northern Ireland are being made available to companies from across the island. Furthermore, enhanced collaboration between IDA Ireland and Invest Northern Ireland is being taken forward with an initial focus on collaboration around the business-operating environment so as to enhance the attractiveness of the island for Foreign Direct Investment.
Recently the Chief Executives of the enterprise development agencies on the island of Ireland attended the first All-Island Business Networks Forum in Farmleigh on 30 January. The Forum highlighted the potential business and economic benefits of business networks and was organised as a result of collaboration between my Department, the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment in Northern Ireland and the enterprise development agencies on the island of Ireland.
The new National Development Plan 2007-2013 sets out to give real meaning to the approach outlined in the ‘Comprehensive Study on the All-Island Economy’. The Irish Government has set out in the National Development Plan a detailed and specific agenda for progressing such co-operation. Our current hope and strong objective is to deliver these commitments in partnership with a new Northern Ireland Executive and under the auspices of the North/South Ministerial Council.
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