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G8 'is a vital shop window for investment'


A booming financial services sector doesn't just have a place in the City of London, the UK's Minister for Europe has said on a visit to Northern Ireland.

Speaking at the NYSE Euronext offices in Belfast, David Lidington said that as well as building a strong export-driven SME economy in Northern Ireland, the region still needed to keep attracting global companies and inward investment.

Mr Lidington added that the G8 summit this summer would be a vital opportunity to show off to the world what our business environment has to offer.

He was visiting Belfast this week to appear at a session on EU matters in the Northern Ireland Assembly, before visiting the Titanic Quarter and Northern Ireland Science Park.

He then travelled to Dublin to meet his opposite number in the Irish parliament and discuss Ireland's EU presidency.

Mr Lidington also impressed on MLAs the significance for trade and investment of the recently announced EU/US Free Trade Agreement negotiations.

"When you look at companies like the New York Stock Exchange basing themselves in Belfast, you can see that a dynamic financial services sector is not just something that only matters in the City of London," he said.

"Northern Ireland has to fight to attract inward investment from businesses like these against a backdrop of conflict and a time when very few people wanted to do business here.

"Now we have a lot more factors which are making Northern Ireland a good place to do business and the region is in a position to compete in Europe and indeed globally both in terms of attracting inward investment and building a strong export-led SME economy, which of course Northern Ireland is.

"There is a huge opportunity being presented by the G8 summit, as well as a boost for the hospitality sector, the fact that the event is being hosted in Northern Ireland will make people sit up and take notice of a place they may never have heard of before.

"The biggest movers and shakers in the world of business will be able to see what is happening here.

"There will be global Press coverage and a chance to show the world what can be done and produced from a former conflict zone.

"The G8 will not be a magic wand but it can certainly help to attract business by providing huge exposure.

"Northern Ireland businesses must seize this opportunity to show themselves off."


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