Belfast Telegraph

Go East with your exports, Enterprise Minister tells Ulster

By Clare Weir

Northern Ireland businesses are missing out on trade opportunities in the Far East, the enterprise minister has warned.

A seminar organised by Hong Kong Development Council and UK Trade and Investment, and hosted by Invest NI, has been taking place in Belfast.

Firms including White's Speedicook in Tandragee, Tyrone's Fivemiletown Creamery, Ballymena's Wrightbus and Dunbia in Dungannon have already won big business in China and Hong Kong.

Relations were strengthened earlier this year with the visit to Northern Ireland of Liu Yandong, the highest ranking female politician in China's Communist Party.

Arlene Foster said China and other fast-growing Asian economies are increasingly important to Northern Ireland.

"The focus on high growth markets such as China is an integral part of the Executive's strategy to transform Northern Ireland into a vibrant, private sector-led economy. Our domestic market is too small to drive the private sector growth required to make a step change in our economy.

"Too many of our exporters have historically relied on near markets such as the Republic of Ireland or Great Britain. We need to extend our reach and take advantage of the many opportunities that exist across the globe."

Food firms were exporting to Hong Kong, the minister said, while software and Andor's scientific cameras were being sent to China.

She added: "Clearly, huge business opportunities exist and our success to date should encourage other local companies, both large and small, to explore the exciting opportunities which are emerging in this global market."