Belfast Telegraph

Minister's support pledge as firms embark on Middle East trade trip

By Heather McGarrigle

Northern Ireland companies are being offered new support to tap into an export market that has already brought £2m of new orders this year to firms here.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster announced firms will now be able to access greater support to increase exports to the Middle East, following the restructuring of existing resources.

As she prepared to lead an Invest NI trade mission to Kurdistan, the minister revealed more than £2m of business had been secured by Northern Ireland firms following the first trade mission there in January.

Mrs Foster said selling goods and services outside Northern Ireland was "vital to securing our economic recovery".

She said: "Northern Ireland's manufacturing and tradeable service companies can now access more targeted in-market support in the strategically important Middle East region.

"Invest NI has strengthened and repositioned its Dubai operation as a regional market development hub for south, west and central Asia.

"In addition, Invest NI has established a base in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia's Red Sea port and second largest city, which will help our companies to grasp the exciting business opportunities from the kingdom's ongoing investment in infrastructure projects.

"It is also immensely encouraging that most of the mission members are visiting Kurdistan for the first time with Invest NI and six of the 20 participating companies are taking part in an overseas mission for the very first time."

In Kurdistan, Ms Foster will be meeting politicians and key business leaders to discuss future opportunities for co-operation in areas such as trade, technology transfer, investment and tourism.