Written by 1:10 am EU Investment

Government to introduce ‘investment zones’ in north

NEW investment zones will be introduced in Northern Ireland alongside England, Scotland and Wales, the UK Government has said.

Documents published by the Treasury during Friday’s mini budget said it ‘intends working closely with the devolved administrations’ to deliver the zones.

In theory, the zones will benefit from lower taxes for businesses in designated sites with accelerated development and streamlined planning applications.

However, as Ulster University economist Esmond Birnie noted, it isn’t an entirely new concept, with very limited results in practice.

“The past experience of the enterprize zones (EZs) of the 1980s and 1990s indicated substantial displacement whereby up to 50 per cent of the jobs ‘created’ within EZs simply moved from other parts of the country.”

In the most recent example, introduced by former Chancellor George Osborne in the mid-2010s, Dr Birnie said a single EZ in Coleraine managed to attract just one company.

“In any case, it is doubtful if Northern Ireland could really have a successful EZ given the constraints imposed by the protocol in terms of cutting taxes and changing regulations within the EU’s Single Market rules.”

Another protocol feature emerged during Friday’s mini budget when Kwasi Kwarteng announced new VAT-free shopping for overseas visitors to Britain.

Due to the protocol, Northern Ireland has maintained a VAT-free scheme for visitors from outside the EU.

That scheme is now set to be modernised, but little detail was published on Friday as to whether GB’s scheme will be offered to EU visitors.

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