The First Minister Rt. Hon. Peter D Robinson, MLA and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, MP, MLA are leading their first business mission to Japan this week.
The four-day visit follows an invitation extended to the Ministers during the G8 Summit by Japanese Prime Minister Abe. During the visit the First Minister and deputy First Minister will meet with political representatives to promote trade, investment and tourism, as well as hold a number of meetings with existing and potential investors.
Speaking in advance of the visit, the First Minister Peter Robinson said: “We very much welcome our first opportunity to visit Japan at the invitation Prime Minister Abe. This important visit will enable us to follow up on some initial discussions with potential new investors that began at the Investment Conference in October.
“Japan is an important and growing export market for Northern Ireland companies currently worth in excess of £32million. Japanese owned business in Northern Ireland currently employ over 2,400 people and visits such as these are extremely important to developing important trade and investment relationships, and to show our commitment to supporting overseas companies to invest in Northern Ireland.
“After London, Belfast has attracted the most Foreign Direct Investment compared with any other city in the UK, particularly in technology and financial services.
“We are determined to increase trade between the two countries and raise the profile of Northern Ireland in Japan.”
The deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: “We are visiting Japan 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 and technology are already actively selling their products in Japan.
“Japan’s economy is the third largest in the world; bigger than the economies of Brazil, India, South Korea and Turkey combined making it a significant market for trade and investment. It is also our largest source of foreign direct investment from Asia-Pacific. We have a number of Japanese companies already established in the north of Ireland. This visit will give us the opportunity to meet with these companies and discuss ways in which we might be able to support them to grow their operations here.”