Belfast Telegraph

Exports key says minister before trip to Middle East

By John Mulgrew

Growing exports is a “crucial” step to developing and expanding Northern Ireland’s business landscape, the Economy Minister has said.

Speaking ahead of his trip this week to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Simon Hamilton said he wants to ensure Northern Ireland can expand sales across the globe.

“Growing our exports is an absolutely critical element of creating the increasingly outward looking, globally competitive economy that I want to see Northern Ireland become,” he said.

“That’s why I have already launched a new Trade Accelerator Plan. The plan provides a range of enhanced support for businesses to explore more trading opportunities outside of Northern Ireland.

“As well as providing the right level of support, it is also my job to help open international doors for Northern Ireland companies and in the months ahead I will be working in close co-operation with our network of Invest NI teams around the globe to expand our exports.

“If we are to transform Northern Ireland into a globally competitive economy, then we need to capitalise on the fact that Northern Ireland was the only part of the UK to expand its exports in the last year.”

During his trip to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Mr Hamilton will meet a number of business groups, as well as some of those companies already working in the Middle East.

A number of Northern Ireland firms have already expanded into the UAE, including equipment manufacturer CDE and bus maker Wrightbus.

He said: “This week I am travelling to the Middle East for the first time, where I will meet a number of influential business leaders in the United Arab Emirates and build on the brilliant relationships already built by Arlene Foster when she was Enterprise Minister.

“The Middle East offers unbelievable opportunities for Northern Ireland companies, with the UAE strategically positioned as an important gateway to the whole region.

“Local firms have seized the opportunity of trading in the Middle East, with exports to the United Arab Emirates alone standing at £60m in 2015/16, which was an encouraging increase of almost 15% on the previous year.

“Businesses like CDE, Wrightbus and Brett Martin have set up offices in the UAE to act as a Middle East base to boost their trade opportunities in the region.

“It is great to see a succession of success stories, with local firms like AJ Power supplying diesel generators, Mallaghan Engineering from Dungannon providing airports with ground handling equipment and Cunningham Covers in Maghera designing and manufacturing industrial textile covers in the Middle East.”

Mr Hamilton said Northern Ireland is on “the cusp of an exciting new era”.

“I am determined to make every effort to ensure that Northern Ireland is perfectly placed to take full advantage of the new trading opportunities that will emerge.”

Belfast Telegraph

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