Written answers

Thursday, 21 March 2024

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Cross-Border Co-operation

Photo of Brendan SmithBrendan Smith (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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129. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the measures that will be implemented to grow even further and strengthen the all-Ireland economy following the very welcome growth in cross-Border trade since 1998; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13541/24]

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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The Government looks forward to working closely with the new Executive, particularly through the framework of the North South Ministerial Council, on the many areas where North-South cooperation makes a positive difference to the lives of the people of this island. This includes the work of InterTrade Ireland, whose mission is to support businesses to take advantage of north–south co-operative opportunities to improve capability and drive competitiveness, jobs and growth.

Underpinning the restoration of the institutions are a comprehensive set of trade arrangements agreed between the EU and the UK, namely the Windsor Framework. These reaffirm Northern Ireland’s place in the UK internal market while also securing Northern Ireland’s access to the EU Single Market for goods. Ultimately, these arrangements have the practical effect of protecting North South trade, supporting businesses and jobs across the island while importantly providing a unique opportunity for northern business.

The development of an integrated all-island economy is one of the key achievements of the peace process. The growth of the all-island economy has helped to drive prosperity North and South, reinforcing the peace dividend for communities across the island. Cross-border trade in goods and services is estimated to be valued at approximately €11.6 billion, a threefold increase since the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

Protecting and growing the all-island economy is a major priority for the Government, as reflected in the Shared Island Initiative and revised National Development Plan 2021-2030 (NDP). In February, the Government approved the largest ever allocation for cross-border projects, with a total funding package of €800 million. These include major upgrades to connectivity on the island, such as providing €600 million for the upgrade of the A5 road, funding for the construction of the landmark Narrow Water Bridge and additional funding to deliver an hourly rail connection between Dublin and Belfast. This investment will deliver enhanced cross-border connectivity, providing new opportunities for economic and social links and helping to grow the all-island economy.

The Government has committed €30 million to fund a collaborative pilot project between Enterprise Ireland, InterTrade Ireland and Invest Northern Ireland focused on promoting female entrepreneurship, cross-border networks, and sustainability and innovation. This work will be augmented by the PEACEPLUS SME Development and Transition Programme, which supports SMEs to scale up cross-border collaboration.

Through substantial investment in major infrastructure projects and targeted support for enterprise, the Government is confident of further sustained growth in the all-island economy.


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