A STRABANE businessman will be the only voice from the North in a key advisory group as the UK seeks to secure new international trade deals post-Brexit.
Kieran Kennedy who is the managing director of O’Neill’s has joined the Department of International Trade’s advisory group for British Manufacturing and Consumer Goods and will play a central role in advising the department during future trade negotiations to help inform the government’s negotiating position and deliver key industry deals that benefit the whole UK.
Speaking about his new role, Mr Kennedy said the economy was facing a major challenge but that he was determined to deliver a positive influence.
“Securing sound international trade agreements is essential for the economy which is facing probably its biggest challenge in living memory. I am committed to ensuring negotiations draw to a successful conclusion for all involved,” he said.
“I am happy to share my experience to get the right deals in place for O’Neill’s and other manufacturing companies who are significant local employers.
“Trade negotiations are a new territory as it is the first time in more than a generation that the UK has acted independently of the European Union.
“I welcome the opportunity to help make a positive influence on any deals decided upon so they deliver for Northern Ireland, and to protect jobs and the economy here.”
Mr Kennedy added, “I intend to be a vocal member of the group to achieve the best possible outcomes for everyone involved in manufacturing which is still the bedrock of our local economy.”
According to the UK Secretary of State for International Trade, Liz Truss – who launched the advisory groups – trade talks with Japan, the US, Australia and New Zealand were “entering their crucial latter stages”.
It is the latest influential position for Mr Kennedy who was recently appointed to the Board of Invest NI and currently chairs Strabane Training Services, Customised Training Services and Strabane Business Improvement District.