Ministers attend US economic conference

First Minister Rt Hon Peter D. Robinson MLA and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP MLA have arrived in Washington DC ahead of Tuesday’s economic conference.

The conference which will be hosted by US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, will bring together a range of Northern Irish companies, current investors from the US and a range of potential investors identified by Special Economic Envoy, Declan Kelly.

Mr Robinson said: "This conference will allow us to sell the Northern Ireland product directly to some of the America's most successful and best know companies, many of whom have already expressed an interest in investing here. The Executive said from a very early stage that attracting inward investment was vital to the Northern Irish economy and we have had some considerable success. I have no doubt that as a direct result of this conference we will forge a new set of relationships that will in the months and years to come see further significant investment."

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: "Secretary Clinton has played an extremely important role not only in the peace process but in helping us to develop our economy and to improve the lives of our people. The conference that she is hosting further highlights the commitment that exists in the US to boosting our economy through investment and the creation of jobs. I am very conscious that there are areas across the north that have yet to feel the benefits of peace and have only ever known deprivation, poverty and inequality. This conference will, I am sure, bear fruit and will have a long and lasting legacy that will benefit our economy and all our people equally."

Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster and Employment and Employment and Learning Minister Sir Reg Empey are also attending the conference.

Minister Foster said: "The one day conference gives us an unprecedented opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland and to promote the local business model to a select group of senior decision makers. The focus will be on direct business discussions to allow very senior executives from American companies to hear why an investment in Northern Ireland makes sound commercial sense.

"Invest NI will support the US Economic Envoy, Declan Kelly at the conference, by promoting Northern Ireland and following up potential investment opportunities with the conference delegates."

Employment and Learning Minister Sir Reg Empey said: "This conference provides an excellent opportunity to showcase the skills of the Northern Ireland workforce. We are here in Washington for the economic hard sell - to show that Northern Ireland is an excellent location in which to invest and do business. Northern Ireland's further education colleges and universities, working in partnership with my Department, are already producing the skills looked for by inward investors. Our Assured Skills Initiative further ensures that the right skills will be provided for new investment, boosting Northern Ireland's attractiveness and competitiveness."