A Chinese delegation visited Mid and East Antrim this week for ‘key discussions’ aimed at boosting business links and trade between both areas.
The Council has already voted to pursue a far east strategy which will involve a number of visits to China by elected representatives and officers.
Among the guests hosted in Ballymena by Mayor Councillor Lindsay Millar was Jacques Zhao, Director Representative of China Jiangsu Provincial Economic and Trade Office in the UK, as well as members of the Chinese Consulate in Belfast.
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council have made a key strategic priority out of growing the economy – with China identified as an important partner to those investment plans, and closer ties offering potential for mutually beneficial business links through jobs and prosperity both here and in China.
The Mayor said: “This reception was an excellent opportunity to meet face to face with vital contacts and partners.
“We in Mid and East Antrim are committed to doing all that we can to build relationships with China and harness a relationship aimed at boosting practical and mutual benefits.
“We are capitalising on all opportunities to develop relationships with Chinese businesses and other global audiences and raise our profile as an attractive investment location.
“Council’s Amplify strategy aims to boost economic growth and create jobs for the borough by establishing Mid and East Antrim as a key investment location to global audiences, this continued business engagement with China is delivering on that strategy by promoting our key priority sectors including agri-food, manufacturing, tourism and energy.
“Regarding industry and in particular manufacturing, Mid and East Antrim is brimming with exceptional talent and infrastructure, and we are ideally placed to deliver on our blueprint to breathe new life into our economy.
“Council is committed to doing all that we can to work in partnership with our manufacturers and maintain our reputation as the engine room of the Northern Ireland economy. Greater collaboration with our Chinese partners could prove a game-changer to the delivery of our vision. We are also committed to promoting our strong cultural heritage in China and doing all we can to showcase our superb tourism offering to the Chinese market and win a greater share of the four million Chinese visitors who travel to Europe each year.”
This week’s meeting was arranged after representatives from Mid and East Antrim attended the Building a Regional Partnership with China Workshop, which took place in Liverpool in June.
The event was aimed at councils and regional organisations keen to develop connections with their counterparts in China.
Councillor Audrey Wales MBE represented Mid and East Antrim at the conference, along with Council’s Investment and Place Manager, Karen Hastings.
Councillor Wales said: “During my term as Mayor I was delighted to welcome Chinese Consul General Madam Wang Shuying to Mid and East Antrim.
“Consul General Wang Shuying was impressed by the offerings in Mid and East Antrim and its incredible potential as a great place to live, work, visit and invest in. This provided an excellent opportunity to grow our relations with the Chinese community and we continue to work hard to promote Mid and East Antrim as an attractive location for international investment.
“Council’s Chief Executive, Anne Donaghy, has also been in contact with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which is working to establish more Council partnerships, and we look forward to continuing this exciting work.”