Coronavirus: NI firms 'could help China's recovery'

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A person conducting medical researchImage source, Getty Images

Businesses from Northern Ireland could be presented with new opportunities in China after the coronavirus outbreak, the head of Invest NI has said.

Kevin Holland said once China recovers from the illness, there could be potential for NI companies to benefit.

Coronavirus originated in China and it still has the most cases and the most deaths as a result.

But many more new cases are now being diagnosed outside the country than inside.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's Inside Business programme, Mr Holland said once coronavirus was brought under control, he believed China would launch "quite a big" stimulus programme to make up for a period when many areas have been quarantined.

He said: "I would say that we should be looking at what the opportunities are for cooperation and commercial enterprise as these stimuli start to take place in China.

"The other thing we should look at is that many companies source products from China - critical components as part of supply chains.

"I think there will be some interesting discussions to have around dual sourcing.

"Are there alternatives for backup supply from places like Northern Ireland, so companies are not always relying on a single source, perhaps, in the Chinese manufacturing base".

Image source, Invest NI
Image caption,
Kevin Holland said he is optimistic about the future for NI businesses trading with China

Invest NI was forced to close its offices across China in January as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, with staff working from home.

Mr Holland said he gets a message from those staff every morning and he could confirm they were all healthy, but still working at home following guidance from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

He said: "The mood of the team, apart from being in their homes for the past two months, is very positive."

Inside Business is broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster at 1230 on Saturday and is later available on BBC Sounds.