Belfast Chamber welcomes Secretary of State to discussion with city business leaders

Belfast Chamber has welcomed the returning Secretary of State for Northern Ireland the Rt Hon Julian Smith MP to a round table discussion with over 20 of the city’s business leaders.

The discussion, hosted in central Belfast, touched on a wide range of topics such as Brexit, the need for an urgent return of devolution, skills, infrastructure and the importance of Belfast to the whole region’s economy.

Commenting, Belfast Chamber Chief Executive Simon Hamilton said, “Belfast Chamber we’re very pleased to be able to welcome the Secretary of State back to Northern Ireland in his first public engagement after the General Election. The role of Secretary of State is an incredibly important one and especially so at this particular time and Belfast Chamber wishes Mr Smith well with the vital work that he will undertake over the coming weeks and months.

Understandably, Belfast Chamber members were keen to talk to Mr Smith about the Prime Minister’s Brexit Deal and the need for an urgent restoration of devolution at Stormont. Business has suffered from so much uncertainty and a lack of decision making locally have had upon the economy and our ability to grow. We implore our local political parties to restore the Assembly and Executive without delay and we reinserted to Mr Smith our desire for a business-friendly Brexit which permits local businesses to trade with the EU without a hard border and the rest of the UK unencumbered.

Belfast Chamber also took the opportunity to impress upon the Secretary of State the need for a continued focus on maintaining the flow of skilled workers through our education system and developing Northern Ireland’s infrastructures. These key enablers of growth need ongoing attention.

As well as being our biggest city. Belfast is the driver of Northern Ireland’s economy. Investment and support for the city isn’t about benefitting people in Belfast alone. It helps people all across our region. Belfast Chamber reiterated to the Secretary of State that Belfast’s recent success has not happened by accident. It has required consistent investment and concerted action on the part of government and the business community in the city over many years. That relentless focus on growing a capital city of scale needs to be maintained. Now is the time to keep our foot on the pedal towards an even more successful Belfast where greater numbers of people want to live, work, study and visit and where companies choose to invest and we delivered that message loudly and clearly to the Secretary of State”.

Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce is made up of businessmen and women from a full range of commercial enterprises from retailers to hoteliers, solicitors to estate agents, property developers to media, tech companies to transport providers.