All roads could soon be leading to China.
Visiting municipal leaders from China met with their counterparts last month in Belfast and it is hoped this will be the beginning of a new and productive trade relationship between Northern Ireland and China.
Northern Ireland hosted over 100 Chinese provincial and city leaders in December 2017 at the UK-China Regional Leaders Summit in Belfast. The summit showcased the strength of business and innovation in Northern Ireland and provided a springboard to explore growth in China.
Newry Mourne and Down District Council representatives met with the Director General of the Changchun Municipal People’s Government and their European Division Director during the summit.
Newry Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor, Roisin Mulgrew said: “The Friendship Agreement with the Changchun Region is a further development of the Council’s objective to attract investment, support the creation of new jobs and will enhance the friendship between the two regions.
“The Newry Mourne and Down region is an outward looking hub of entrepreneurial innovation, demonstrated by recent announcements from local companies who are already trading on the global market. We look forward to working with all our partners to explore the opportunities the Friendship Agreement with the Changchun region presents.”
The Chinese economy continues to open up to western business with the advanced manufacturing, technology, digital sectors and agri food sectors, in particular, presenting trade opportunities for Northern Ireland. By invitation of Liu Changlong, Mayor of Chagchun, a delegation from the Council area will visit Changchun in 2018.
Newry Mourne and Down local businesses have been trading with China in recent years with the most recent announcement from MJM, a Newry based company. MJM commenced work on 8 January 2018 on the Star Pisces, a Cruise Ship, dry-docked in Shenzhen for a nineteen-day refit. The fourteen week contract included the manufacturing of various components in MJM’s factory in Newry which were then dispatched in containers to join the vessel for the refit to be completed by a team of over 85 MJM Group skilled workers.
The depreciation of sterling against the US dollar has made Northern Ireland exports ever more attractive, making now a good time to explore the opportunities of both China and Hong Kong.