Belfast Telegraph

Wrightbus celebrates its first Chinese order

By Clare Weir

Ballymena firm Wrightbus is celebrating its first deal to China ahead of next week's visit to the region by some of Northern Ireland's senior politicians.

Fifty double-decker bus kits made in Northern Ireland have been sold to Hong Kong's Kowloon Motor Bus Company in a deal which is thought to be worth just under £4m.

They'll first be shipped for assembly to Zhuhai in China but will soon after that be operational on Hong Kong's streets.

Wrightbus is arranging for some of its shop floor workers to go to China to oversee the construction of the buses, a number of whom are learning Chinese ahead of their trip.

Earlier this year Wrightbus signed a deal to export 550 kits to a transport company in Singapore in a deal worth £41m.

Meanwhile, some of the top members of the Executive are heading to China later this week in a follow up to the visit to Northern Ireland in April of Chinese state councillor, Madame Liu Yandong.

First Minister Peter Robinson, deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster and Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill will promote trade, investment, tourism, education and research on a six-day trip to Hong Kong, and Shenyang and Beijing in China.

During the trip, with help from Invest Northern Ireland, 35 local companies will be showing off their skills and products to the Chinese market as part of a related showcase and local members of the CBI will also be in attendance.

The First Minister said that Northern Ireland has a lot to offer the Chinese market, with world-class universities, a highly educated workforce and high performing businesses.

"Our growing reputation in global markets for quality products and services, combined with a skilled and flexible talent pool is attracting global names in financial services, IT, legal services and outsourcing," he said.

"Our indigenous industries from engineering, food, IT, life sciences, construction, transport, aerospace and renewable energy share a commitment with the Executive to create wealth through developing overseas trade and partnerships."

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said that as the second largest economy in the world, it is clear that China offers vast potential for businesses.

"A number of our local companies are already developing their business in China, but there is huge potential for many more to do so in this dynamic marketplace," she said.

Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill added that China has a strong demand for imports of quality food given the size of its population.

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