New Advisory Council to support trade and investment with United States
A new Advisory Council is being set up to support trade and investment between Northern Ireland and the United States.
Prominent businessmen Shaun Kelly, global chief operating officer of KPMG and John Hartnett, founder and chief executive of technology firm SVG Partners will chair the group advising the Stormont Executive on business opportunities.
The Advisory Council will operate on the east and west coasts with five or six members in each location.
It is expected to be fully operational by late spring.
New York based Mr Kelly, who is originally from Belfast, will liaise with Invest Northern Ireland about east coast openings while Mr Hartnett will advise on the west coast and Silicon Valley.
It is part of a new drive to promote Northern Ireland's lower corporation tax rate which is due to take effect from 2018 and was announced by the First and Deputy First Ministers who are visiting New York and Washington.
First Minister Arlene Foster said the new body would be a "great asset".
She said: " The Advisory Council will provide advice to ministers as we continue to grow the economy. It will also use its networks and connections to reach potential new investors to support Invest NI's drive to win even more investment for Northern Ireland.
"The US remains a vital market for Northern Ireland. It is our number one foreign direct investor with nearly 180 US companies employing over 24,000 people in Northern Ireland. It is also an important export market with Northern Ireland companies currently exporting just over £1.1 billion of goods to the US."
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: "Over the last five years we have seen investments from the US grow steadily.
"With the support of the Advisory Council and the continued work by Invest (Northern Ireland) we hope to continue this trend and secure even more investment from this market."