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Foreign Affairs | North-South Trade

To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs the extent to which he continue to encourage North-South trade in the context of the post-Brexit era; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


Strong growth in North South trade over the past two decades is one of the key achievements of the peace process. We now have a closely integrated all-island economy, which both supports and is supported by the peace process. Increased economic and social cooperation benefits communities across the island and strengthens prosperity, North and South. Today, the all-island economy is important for businesses – particularly small businesses – and facilitates many people’s livelihoods across the island.

It was clear from the outset that Brexit had the potential to cause profound disruption for Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland as a whole, including in relation to the all-island economy. It is vital, therefore, that the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland protects North South trade, in recognition of the way lives are lived and business is conducted on this island.

The Protocol ensures that many of the post-Brexit changes that apply to trade in goods between Ireland and Great Britain do not apply between Ireland and Northern Ireland, safeguarding vital supply chains and allowing businesses on both sides of the border to continue to trade seamlessly with one another. The Protocol also provides that Northern Ireland goods continue to have access to the EU Single Market, which represents a significant opportunity for Northern Ireland businesses.

Protecting and growing cross-border trade and North South cooperation remains a major priority for this Government, reflected in the commitments we made in the New Decade, New Approach agreement and, more recently, in our revised National Development Plan. There is a positive story to tell about economic cooperation on this island, the benefits of North South trade, and current and future business opportunities and the Government wants to see the island of Ireland prosper, North and South.

With the Protocol in place, the Government will continue to work to create an enabling environment for the continued growth of North South trade, to further unlock the potential of the all-island economy.

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