US Economic Envoy to NI: “It’s no longer somebody else’s problem.”

The US Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland, Declan Kelly, was here on a one-day visit yesterday.

According to a statement from the NI Secretary of State, Owen Paterson

 The Secretary of State discussed with him how the Government could, in partnership with the Executive, help develop the private sector and attract new foreign investment. He outlined his thinking of the possibility of permitting the Northern Ireland Executive to reduce the rate of Corporation Tax, on which a consultation paper is in preparation.

Perhaps the Secretary of State also told him of his concerns about a lack of enthusiasm for reducing corporation tax?

The Secretary of State said: “The basic facts are, if we can get this through, and we’ve got to persuade the Treasury and we’ve got to persuade the European Commission, so we have got quite a long way to go on this, but bluntly, we won’t get there if we don’t have enthusiasm from Northern Ireland.” [added emphasis]

The NI First and deputy First Ministers were also treated to a visit

Mr Kelly has been tasked by US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to foster trade and investment links between the US and Northern Ireland and to assist the Executive in attracting greater business opportunities.

Both Ministers welcomed the opportunity to meet Mr Kelly again, to review ongoing progress and to explore future potential.

But perhaps of most interest are his reportedly unscripted comments at a meeting of business leaders in Belfast

Mr Kelly, who is US secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s economic envoy, said: “You must realise that a transformation of the Northern Ireland economy needs to take place . . . you the private sector must be the driving force behind this change. It’s no longer somebody else’s problem. The reality is this is the time to take a brave step forward and start investing in your own future.”

He later added: “The time has come to call a spade a spade. I’ve spent 16 months in this job and I’ve been very encouraged by what I’ve seen . . . All the tools needed are on the table, we’ve got to make that happen.

In his address, which left his audience in near silence as a question-and-answer session began, he said the private sector had advantages, ranging from a well-educated and young workforce to the lowest costs anywhere in Britain or Ireland. What was needed was a commitment to investment and to cease blaming others – such as the banks or the British government over its cuts – for the North’s economic problems. [added emphasis throughout]

Let’s hope that message was also conveyed to the political leaders…

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  • Let’s hope that message was also relayed to the political leaders…

    Pete, Hi,

    In the Northern Ireland political leadership there is an Imagination and Intelligence Deficit, which has them unable to kick start the private sector, which generates wealth with novel innovation and extremely sophisticated programs.

    And whenever I say has them unable to kick start the private sector, which generates wealth with novel innovation and extremely sophisticated programs that really translates into them being unable to supply seed funds to businesses and/or programs, which they don’t understand, but which their owners would assure them would do exactly as they would say it would do, but which if the Intellectual Property involved were to fall into the wrong hands, would be likely to be abused and used against the economy, and cause it quite catastrophic damage.

    Can anyone here on Slugger advise on who in government is qualified to issue a decision on a proposal for seed funding which would be discussing such a highly sensitive program? For there’s no point in talking to the monkey whenever it is the organ grinder who makes the decision, and the fewer people who would know of what was being discussed in such a meeting, the safer it would be for them.

    I fully appreciate that normally such ventures are private sector funded and then pitched to government for use under contract, rather than this more novel approach which would reverse that model, but then it is Northern Ireland and the folk here do have their own way of doing things and Stormont is a new governance body, which doesn’t have to follow the failed model of other discredited institutions, just because they might be expected to, or would be advised that they have to because it is the way it has always been done. And if you are responsible for the birth of a project, are you fully entitled to enjoy the fruits of its success, with an arrangement for it to be a public service, albeit with it supplied privately because of its sensitive nature.

  • Greenflag

    So Mr Kelly is saying that the NI people/can’t blame the banks for not lending them the money or advancing them the credit or working capital needed to grow their businesses ?

    And the British Government’s cuts won’t cut into consumer spending ?

    Mr Kelly might want to reflect that the NI economy is attached by an umbilical cord to this economy

    excerpt ,

    The contraction in UK GDP shows the economy has weakened just as the Chancellor rolls out his £81 billion package of spending cuts, which include hundreds of thousands of public sector job losses.

    Economists warned the fall in GDP output has shaken confidence in the ability of the private sector to pick up the expected slack in the economy and hold off a double-dip recession – defined as two consecutive quarters of economic contraction.

    ‘which left his audience in near silence ‘

    I’m not surprised . Somebody should have asked Mr Kelly how the ‘recovery’ is doing in Michigan and Detroit and could NI investors learn anything from the American experience of calling a spade a spade ?

  • There’s another message, this time from Republican Congressman Laffetz. He’d like to take an axe to the $15 million annual US subvention which is shared between NI and 6 border counties in Ireland.

  • Cynic2

    The problem here has never been a lack of capital.It has been a lack of ideas and enterprises to invest profitably in – apart from apartment bvlocks

  • Greenflag

    @ cynic2,

    Good point and one which is pertinent to NI and indeed ROI’s economy and other economies in the western world . The whole trust of technological advance over the past few decades has been to increase productivity by reducing numbers employed, for the benefit of shareholders and efficent use of financial capital . That and the demise of manufacturing at the expense of financial and other services and the globalisation of the world economy – has left developed countries in what seems to be a limbo of reducing expectations for many in these societies .

    Modern day Victorians or to call them by their proper name the Neo Cons of the right and small government proponents will as they did in the past blame the poor for their poverty . This should not surprise anybody . Their Victorian ancestors in puritanical vein thought there was nothing immoral in articling a 3 and a half year old if sturdy enough as an apprentice chimney sweep and if the poor sod died before reaching his teen years of a lungful of coal soot -then hey there were thousands more available to take his place .
    27 million starved Indians or a 1 million famine dead Irish -what matter – as long as we collect our dividends eh 🙁

    And they are no different today . All that holds them back is hard won labour and human rights legislated for in western democracies over the past 80 years or so.