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Firms urged to work with US market

By Margaret Canning

Companies in Northern Ireland can help US businesses channel their products and services into Europe, according to Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster.

The minister addressed Californian companies in San Francisco during an Invest NI trade mission to the city this week. She told them the US market was important to Northern Ireland, accounting for $2bn or 20% of exports.

“It is now our biggest market outside Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland, particularly for technology-led products and services.”

But she warned companies against “battening down the hatches”, despite the gloom pervading the economy. “We need to focus on collaboration and on building partnerships that will facilitate change and help to keep the global economy moving forward.”

The minister, who led the mission of 15 Invest NI client companies, said increasing export growth was a priority for the Executive. “We see this as pivotal to our commitment to strengthen the Northern Ireland economy. Our aim in the Executive is to work closely with Northern Ireland companies on developing flexible and responsive initiatives that will assist them to grow in the global marketplace.

“A number of measures already taken by Invest NI will encourage and assist companies across a wide range of business sectors to significantly increase capability in activities such as innovation and international sales.”

She said Californian companies looking for a way into the EU marketplace of over 500m people could join forces with companies taking part in the trade mission to help launch their products and services into Europe.

The 15 companies on the trade mission are from sectors including aerospace, information and communication technology, and manufacturing.

Among the participants in the trip are Averna Europe from Carrickfergus, BASE from Dundonald, Bio-Kinetic Europe from Belfast, Enniskillen-based Cashtrail Software, First Derivatives from Newry, Inphoactive from Jordanstown and Intermatic Manufacturing, Larne .

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