Northern Ireland

NI leaders begin business trip to Boston and Chicago

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness
Image caption Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness will travel to Boston and Chicago during their five-day visit

First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness are due to begin a five-day visit to America.

Their trip will take in engagements in Boston and Chicago aimed at strengthening business, university and political links.

Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness will met executives from Fortune 500 companies in Massachusetts.

They will also visit two of Northern Ireland's most important US investors.

It is their second investment trip in two months. Last month Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness held talks with potential investors in New York.

The visit will start in Boston where the ministers will deliver a speech at a major EU-US Connected Health conference.

Health Minister Edwin Poots will also attend and, according to the conference website, Northern Ireland has 26 registered participants - that is more than England, Scotland, Wales or any other European country.

As well as visiting Fortune 500 companies, both men will attend a series of business meetings with existing and potential investors.

'Success'

Later in the week they will fly to Chicago where they will visit US investors, Caterpillar and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Speaking ahead of the visit Mr Robinson said: "I welcome this opportunity to visit the US following the fantastic success of the Northern Ireland investment conference where we welcomed over 120 potential and existing inward investors to Northern Ireland from across the globe.

"Foreign direct investment into Northern Ireland is hugely important to our economy and brings us many benefits. In the last three years alone 800 foreign investors have created 8,000 jobs here. As well as bringing these valuable new jobs, foreign investment also provides excellent benefits for our local businesses and communities.

'Business links'

"The investment conference showcased Northern Ireland's growing reputation as a premier investment location to potential and existing inward investors. We intend to build on the legacy of the conference by fortifying the excellent relationship we already have with the US and by encouraging new companies not just to invest here but to continue to re-invest and expand."

Mr McGuinness said: "This is our first joint visit to Boston, since the establishment of the institutions in 2007, and it offers an opportunity to strengthen business links and develop health connections and university collaboration.

"The USA is our number one source of foreign direct investment, with 165 US-owned businesses already located here and employing almost 20,000 people in the north of Ireland.

"Recent re-investments such as Allstate, with 650 new jobs, and Terumo's 416 new jobs, demonstrate that once investors arrive here, they are impressed enough to stay and grow.

"We have a skilled workforce, with our universities and industries closely aligned to work in partnership and produce world-class graduates with the appropriate skills to meet industry needs."

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