The First Minister Rt. Hon. Peter D Robinson, MLA and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, MP, MLA are leading their first business mission to China this week.
On the six-day visit to Shanghai and Hong Kong the First Minister and deputy First Minister will promote trade, investment, tourism and build on existing university links as well as encouraging research partnerships in China. The Ministers will be joined by the Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster and the Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill following their respective visits to Shenyang and Beijing for business and agricultural meetings.
Speaking in advance of the visit, the First Minister said: "After hosting the visit of Chinese State Councillor, Madame Liu Yandong earlier this year we want to further develop relationships with China and build on existing trade, investment, tourism and university links to grow our economy.
“Northern Ireland has a lot to offer the Chinese market with world-class universities, a highly educated workforce and high performing businesses. Our growing reputation in global markets for quality products and services, combined with a skilled and flexible talent pool is attracting global names in financial services, IT, Legal Services and outsourcing.
“Our indigenous industries from engineering, food, IT, life sciences, construction, transport, aerospace and renewable energy share a commitment with the Executive to create wealth through developing overseas trade and partnerships.”
The deputy First Minister said: “We are visiting China at a time when our businesses are enjoying unprecedented success in international markets and competing globally in innovation and creativity across a range of sectors. Our local companies in the life sciences, technology, construction machinery and food sectors are already actively selling their products in China.
“Our relationship with China has been developing over many years through regular trade missions, strong university links and most recently the senior government visit led by Madame Liu Yandong.
“We want to build on those strong connections as well as showcasing our tourism offering to the Chinese market.
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said: “As the second largest economy in the world, it is clear that China offers vast potential for our businesses to forge greater trade links. A number of our local companies are already developing their business in China, but there is huge potential for many more to do so in this dynamic marketplace.
“Focusing on high growth markets such as China is an integral part of The Northern Ireland Executive’s strategy to transform Northern Ireland into a vibrant, private sector-led and outward looking economy.
“Invest Northern Ireland is currently assisting many firms across a range of sectors to succeed in China and this week 35 local companies will be working to show the Chinese market what they are capable of. This is a fantastic opportunity for local businesses to build relationships, create partnerships and showcase what we, in Northern Ireland, have to offer.”
Highlighting the significance of the trip for the local agriculture industry, Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “The Chinese economy presents huge potential for trade opportunities for our local agri-businesses and for collaborative working in agricultural science, research and the equine industry. This visit is an important step in cementing established working relationships and in the exploration of further co-operation in areas of mutual benefit to our agricultural industries.
“China has a strong demand for imports of quality food given the size of its population and concerns over food security and safety. Therefore not only are we strategically placed to be a key supplier of a range of food products, but we are well positioned to share information on the science and technology behind these products.”