Northern Ireland could be looking forward to stronger trade links with China with confirmation that the province has been selected as the venue for the 2017 UK-China Regional Leaders Summit in December.
The successful bid will bring more than 30 Chinese provincial and municipal leaders together with a wide range of government representatives, academia and businesses to build connections and identify strategic areas for information exchange and economic outcomes.
“Securing this prestigious event is the result of our deeply valued and mutually beneficial relationship with China,” said Civil Service chief David Sterling.
“Our government Departments and Invest NI will be working with universities, businesses and councils in the planning and delivery of this summit so that the Chinese regional leaders leave knowing we are open for business, and looking forward to a long term, productive relationship with them and their regions.”
This is the third such gathering since the concept was agreed between David Cameron and President Xi Jinping during his visit to London in 2015.
The first was held in the UK with the Northern Powerhouse region and second in Shanghai with the Midlands Engine City cluster.
“Northern Ireland may be small in scale compared to China, but securing this summit signals we share their global drive and ambition,” said Tim Losty, director of the Northern Ireland Bureau in China.
“The mission of the Bureau in China is to strengthen the relationship with the government and people of China and to identify projects that will be of mutual and practical benefit.
“The summit will create the circumstances and conditions for those relationships to form and develop to the benefit of both China and the people of Northern Ireland.
“This announcement today affords Northern Ireland a unique platform to exchange ideas, identify and explore opportunities for collaboration on projects aimed at developing knowledge based and service sector industries in relevant sectors including FinTech, cyber security, life and health sciences, creative industries and agri food.
“Hosting the summit in Northern Ireland provides the stage to share our best practice and progress to date with the North East regions in rebalancing the economy.”
Invest NI CEO Alastair Hamilton said: “Alongside the prestigious municipal leaders, we look forward to welcoming representatives from Chinese businesses in key sectors where there are opportunities to share our expertise and for our universities and businesses to develop or progress mutually beneficial relationships.”