Baroness Symons, Minister of State for International Trade and Investment and Chairman of British Trade International (BTI), the UKs main trade and investment body, has been in Northern Ireland today on a familiarisation visit during which she was briefed on export and business issues affecting local companies.

During the visit, hosted by Invest Northern Ireland, Baroness Symons held discussions with Sir Reg Empey, MLA, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment.

Welcoming the Minister of State, Sir Reg said: "BTI, through Trade Partners UK, provides a global, trade promotion network, which many local companies are using successfully to win business overseas.

"BTI export intelligence and in-market services complement those that Invest NI currently provides and will develop as it seeks to achieve one of its strategic priorities the growth of the Northern Ireland business base through increased sales in external markets.  

"Invest NI's aim is to help many more Northern Ireland companies become world-beaters by offering them a radically different, client-team based focus that will promote innovation and enterprise.

"The agency has a strong base of a 120 per cent growth in exports over the past decade on which to build the faster growth needed to create wealth and good quality employment opportunities across Northern Ireland," added Sir Reg.

The Baroness was a speaker at a luncheon in the offices of Belfast Harbour Commissioners, hosted by Leslie Morrison, Invest NI Chief Executive, and attended by around 80 exporters.

The Minister of State also visited two companies, Brett Martin Ltd, a locally-owned manufacturer and leading exporter of PVC products for the construction industry, and Humax Electronics, Newtownards, an inward investor from Korea which makes digital set-top boxes for satellite broadcasting.

Baroness Symons' visit to Northern Ireland is one of a series being undertaken by the Minister to meet leading exporters and investors throughout the United Kingdom. She was accompanied by Ian Jones, Deputy Group Chief Executive, who is also a member of the BTI Board.