CBI Director General Sir Digby Jones was the keynote speaker at an Invest Northern Ireland hosted dinner in Belfast to highlight business opportunities for local companies in China.
Directors and senior executives from almost 30 companies, including many new to the Chinese market, attended the event with local CBI Chairman Dr David Dobbin and Nigel Smyth, the Northern Ireland Regional Director.
Sir Digby was invited to speak at the event because of his extensive knowledge of business and economic developments in China, a target trade and inward investment market for Invest NI.
The dinner, which was hosted by Leslie Morrison, Invest NI's Chief Executive, was held as part of the preparations for the forthcoming trade mission to Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing from 27th November to 7th December. A group of 45 senior executives from 38 local companies and organisations will be travelling to China on the Invest NI mission.
Sir Digby said: “China is a marketplace that Northern Ireland simply cannot afford to ignore. It has sustained remarkable annual growth of 9.5 per cent over the past two decades and is expected that growth will remain around eight per cent a year in the medium term.
“This makes China an immense business opportunity for Northern Ireland companies to develop trade, strategic alliances and technology transfer. Moreover, opportunities are growing for Northern Ireland to market itself as a location for Chinese companies seeking business in Europe.
“To assist our members in Northern Ireland and other parts of the UK to exploit business there CBI will be opening an office in China later this month,” he added.
Welcoming Sir Digby, Mr Morrison said: "We identified China as a vitally important market for Northern Ireland in our recent Corporate Plan and are now taking steps to increase our engagement there.
“It’s not a new market for our trade team. Trade missions have been travelling from Northern Ireland to China for many years. They have long been among the most popular and successful of our initiatives to strengthen Northern Ireland’s position within the global economy. Encouragingly, many smaller companies have grasped the opportunity provided by such missions to win significant business in this most dynamic marketplace,” he added.