1st March 2023
Mark O’Connell, CEO of Belfast-based OCO Global, an international investment consultancy has welcomed today’s Northern Ireland Protocol deal between the UK and EU. He described it as an opportunity to reinvigorate Northern Ireland’s economy through a “substantial Protocol Dividend”.
Mr O’Connell said:
“From a business perspective, Northern Ireland’s unique dual access to the UK and the Single Market should make the region one of the most desirable investment locations in Europe.
“To date, uncertainty over the Northern Ireland Protocol, difficulties with its operation and political instability in Stormont has meant that Northern Ireland has not been able to capitalise on this unrivalled opportunity.
“Although the fine details are still emerging, the broad thrust of today’s deal between the UK and EU on the Protocol makes Northern Ireland an even more attractive location for business. If we can couple these new arrangements with political stability this will be a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reinvigorate Northern Ireland’s economy.
“With the right political will, Northern Ireland should benefit from a substantial ‘Protocol Dividend’, particularly in sectors such as advanced manufacturing and logistics, and by establishing Belfast as a base for firms’ European headquarters. The opportunities will also extend to tourism, trade and enterprise.
“If we can combine dual market access with reduced business bureaucracy and retain EU Horizon R&D funding for our universities, we will have the chance to close the prosperity gap between Northern Ireland and other regions in these islands.
“With the Protocol operating smoothly, OCO’s most positive forecast is that Northern Ireland’s economy could grow by 50% within a decade to £66bn (Gross National Product). This is the transformative opportunity our economy has been waiting for to address 60-years of under-investment.”