Armstrong warns of Brexit hit to trade route

Alliance Strangford Westminster candidate Kellie Armstrong has said a hard border following Brexit could see the end of a burgeoning trade route between Northern Ireland and China.

The Belt and Road Initiative seeks to increase trade links from China across Europe, with a major event this month promoting it attracting over 130 countries and 70 international organisations. The UK has joined up, with a cargo train recently completing a round trip between China and London to mark the occasion.

Ms Armstrong, who recently visited China as part of an Assembly Business Trust delegation, said assurances needed to be given to ensure the route was not affected due to Brexit.

“The Belt and Road Initiative provides a new opportunity for collaboration, and Northern Ireland has been specifically mentioned as a future participant. In recent years, relations between ourselves and China have increased, as has cooperation in the fields of the economy, trade and the economy especially.

“However, that is undoubtedly under threat due to Brexit and the danger of a hard border. Despite the best intentions of many involved, Brexit is going to see borders established, it is just a matter of where they go and what shape they take. A clear agreement with the EU is needed to be able to access the rail export connection as demonstrated.

“We also need a functioning Executive to articulate our position and ensure such opportunities are not missed. Northern Ireland needs to tap into the huge potential the Belt and Road Initiative provides, and build development strategies with China and other participants. We can play a full role and reap the benefits or miss out thanks to deadlock and hard borders. The choice is simple.”

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