The mayors of Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region have met with Irish ministers to strengthen trade links with Ireland in areas such as manufacturing and innovation.
Mayors Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram joined Irish Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar at a virtual summit on 17 November to set out joint commitments to trade post-EU.
The meeting followed the announcement that Ireland will open a new Consulate General for the North of England in Manchester next year, adding to Ireland’s three existing diplomatic missions in London, Edinburgh and Cardiff. The Consulate will join up with the Manchester office of Enterprise Ireland, which was set up in 2019 to help Irish companies build partnerships across the North.
The three leaders revealed ambitions to build further trade and investment links in areas such as manufacturing, technological innovation, sport and culture. In 2021, Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram plan to lead the first-ever joint trade mission to Ireland by two UK city-regions.
Andy Burnham said:
“Ireland is one of Greater Manchester’s most important markets, with year-on-year growth in exports. As we move into a new phase of UK-Ireland relations we want the North West to be right at the forefront. We are so pleased that the new Consulate General for the North will be based in Manchester, strengthening those historical bonds of friendship and helping us take advantage of new opportunities that will bring mutual benefit to our people and places.”
Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, added:
“The historic, business and cultural links between Ireland, Manchester and Liverpool are really strong and go back decades. We are committed to strengthening these existing ties and building new partnerships, in areas such as infrastructure, housing, clean energy and transport, healthcare and manufacturing.
“Our meeting today concluded with the agreement that we would keep in touch at both political and official level throughout 2021 as we continue to address the challenges posed by Brexit and COVID-19. The proposed new Consulate General for the North of England will play an important role in this regard.”
Greater Manchester enjoys a strong net export trade relationship with Ireland, with total trade between Ireland and the city region valuing nearly £1 billion in 2019. Around 1,400 Greater Manchester businesses currently export to Ireland.
Commenting on the announcement, UK Exports Minister Graham Stuart said:
“Our new Export Growth Plan, which I launched last month, provides £16.5 million in grants and 30 new international trade advisors for the North. Working with Andy [Burnham] and Steve [Rotheram] we will strengthen trade ties with Ireland and help businesses in the North West take advantage of global opportunities and our support.”