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Ulster's business scene impresses US delegates

By Robin Morton

The Rev Ian Paisley has urged visiting American business executives to become "champions" for next spring's US-NI investment conference in Belfast.

The First Minister was speaking at a luncheon held yesterday for a visiting US delegation at Belfast Harbour Commissioners.

The group was led by Ambassadors Robert Tuttle from London and Tom Foley from Dublin, and included representatives of 20 blue chip US companies.

Mr Paisley told the delegation: "My fervent hope is that your visit today will fill you with confidence, both in our political stability and our economic prosperity, and that you will all become champions for the US investment conference."

It was announced at the luncheon that the conference will take place during May.

Nigel Dodds, the Economy Minister, said that as the plans for the event begin to take shape, he would be travelling to the US in mid-November to take part in a series of meetings.

He said that his message to the US was that Northern Ireland was "open for business".

Martin McGuinness, the Deputy First Minister, who also addressed the function, said investment by American companies here was a "win-win situation".

Taking part in an impromptu Press conference, the two ambassadors said they had been impressed by what they had seen in Northern Ireland.

Asked as to whether a cut in corporation tax would help make Northern Ireland more attractive to American investors, Mr Tuttle said that was a decision for the politicians to take.

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