Belfast Telegraph

Ministers bid to boost business links on Emirates trade mission

Five-day itinerary will also take in India

By David Elliott

Having spent last week hosting a representative from China, the world’s second biggest economy, Northern Ireland’s political leaders are this week taking the hard sell to the Persian Gulf and India.

First Minister Peter Robinson, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster have started a five-day tour of the two regions where they hope to drum up business for the Northern Ireland economy.

They will be trying to encourage companies there to set up bases in Northern Ireland, looking for new export markets for the goods and services our indigenous firms produce, and also encouraging tourism to these shores.

“The United Arab Emirates and India are important trading partners for Northern Ireland businesses,” Mr Robinson said.

“As an Executive, we recognise the importance of providing leadership and support to our local companies to help them develop international business opportunities and to grow their businesses through exports.”

Having travelled overnight on Sunday the ministers had a busy first day on Monday, which started with a visit to Abu Dhabi’s Formula One track on Yas Island.

They met with the region’s motorsport governing body the Automobile & Touring Club of the UAE, which is working with the University of UIster to develop an undergraduate sports management degree in the city.

University of Ulster’s Sports Academy has also been working in collaboration with the Automobile & Touring Club to develop new standards within motor racing, not just on enhancing driver skills, but also on issues affecting how the sport is managed and run.

The First and Deputy First Ministers then went on to meet with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi to discuss ways to improve trade links between the two nations, while Enterprise Minister Ms Foster visited Larne company FG Wilson’s Abu Dhabi base.

The delegation then travelled on to Dubai by car where they have more meetings scheduled before flying to India on Tuesday.

Among those on the trip are Invest NI chief executive Alastair Hamilton and the vice chancellor of the University of Ulster, Professor Richard Barnett.

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