Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell has urged local businesses to do all they can to reap the benefits of the ‘golden age’ in UK-China relations.
The Minister, who is leading a 13 company-strong Invest Northern Ireland trade mission to China this week, said: “China is a fast-growing and dynamic marketplace and this week’s mission will give both experienced exporters and new entrants to the market the opportunity to meet potential trading partners.
“We are now in what is being labelled the ‘golden age’ in UK-China relations, as was demonstrated by the recent UK-China Business Summit attended by President Xi Jinping. I had the honour of attending the event in London and it was clear that Northern Ireland has a huge part to play in satisfying China’s ever increasing demand for western goods and services.
“The figures speak for themselves. Our manufacturing exports to China are increasing year on year. In 2010/2011 manufacturing exports from Northern Ireland totalled £60million and in four years have increased by over 58% to £95million.”
With Invest NI support, trade missions have been travelling from Northern Ireland to China for over 15 years.
Jonathan Bell added: “As a direct result of our programme of business activities in China and at home, many Northern Ireland companies are reaping the business benefits, having established strong trade and investment links across what is a huge country.
“In July, we hosted the Healthcare UK China Roadshow in Belfast and, just last month, the UK-China Aviation Working Group spent a day in Northern Ireland giving us the opportunity to showcase our expertise in aerospace. Two weeks ago, 13 Northern Ireland food companies were at Food Hotel China in Shanghai. Our food companies are beginning to gain traction in the market and this should reap benefits for the economy in the near future.
“China is clearly open for business and we have already laid sound foundations in terms of exports. It now time to build on those foundations and I look forward to hearing the success stories that will inevitably flow from the important contacts made during this week’s trade mission.”