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Martin McGuinness heads for US to meet potential investors

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness will visit Houston and San Francisco. Picture by Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Lesley-Anne McKeown, Press Association

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness is to embark on a four-day visit to the United States.

Martin McGuinness will travel, without First Minister Arlene Foster, to Houston and San Francisco to meet potential and existing investors.

The Sinn Fein MLA said: "The United States is our number one foreign direct investor with 185 US companies employing 23,000 people across the north, and is also an important trading partner, accounting for almost 21% of our exports in 2015/16.

"This hasn't happened by accident and is the result of many productive visits to the United States."

Mrs Foster travelled to the US in September to drum up investment during engagements in New York and Washington.

But last week she sparked controversy, accusing Dublin government officials of poaching foreign investment and of talking down the north's economy.

Foreign minister Charlie Flanagan expressed concern at the remarks which were made during a speech at the DUP's annual conference in Belfast.

Mr McGuinness added: "Bringing more and better jobs here is a priority for this executive and these jobs won't just land on our laps by sitting behind a desk at home.

"In recent years we have brought in more foreign direct investment jobs than in any time in our history.

"We have a very compelling proposition, a good infrastructure, a comparatively low cost base and a government committed to creating a pro-business environment.

"Our colleges and universities are internationally renowned and have been key in producing the talent to drive the development of our technology and knowledge industries.

"Around 80% of companies who come here reinvest which is the best possible endorsement. A reduced rate of corporation tax and a strong skills base will make a massive contribution to our future economic prospects.

"As part of my visit I will have face-to-face meetings with a range of existing and potential investors to maintain and create new contacts and relationships and ultimately provide jobs so people can provide for their families."

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has also been promoting the north across the Atlantic and urged the US to "cement" the peace with jobs during his most recent visit.

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