Renewed focus on north’s unique trading position as business delegations arrive in US to pitch for investment

Week of business events begins with NI Chamber signing new strategic alliance with North Carolina

Capitol buildings in Washington DC at night.
A series of business and investment events have been planned in Washington DC, New York and North Carolina this week. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Business delegations from the north have arrived in the United States ahead of the St Patrick’s Day celebrations, where a renewed focus is expected to be placed on new foreign direct investment (FDI) in the wake of the deal to restore the executive.

Economy minister Conor Murphy and the new Invest NI boss Kieran Donoghue are visiting both New York and Washington DC this week, with a series of business events planned in both cities.

Meanwhile the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce has travelled to North Carolina, where a new strategic alliance has been formed with its counterpart in the US state.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was penned between the two bodies on Monday evening.

The NI Chamber said the link-up will see both business organisations committing to work together to promote international trade, investment and co-operation.

It includes pledges to “leverage existing synergies between both economies”, share research and learning and foster new relationships between businesses on both sides of the Atlantic.

The partnership was affirmed at a signing ceremony in the North Carolina capital Raleigh on Monday.

NI Chamber President, Cathal Geoghegan said the arrangement will give companies on both sides of the Atlantic unique access to potential trading relationships.

He said it will also benefit research, promote strategic business alliances, and offer many other collaboration opportunities.

“Dual market access to the EU and GB markets presents significant opportunity,” said Mr Geoghegan.

“We are proud of the depth of our talent pool, the strength of our research and our success on the world stage already.

NI Chamber President, Cathal Geoghegan.
NI Chamber President, Cathal Geoghegan. (Kelvin Boyes)

“As a place to do business, we have a unique and compelling proposition which businesses in North Carolina and across the United States recognise.”

The events pencilled in for northern businesses in the US this week include an Intertrade Ireland 25th anniversary event, an NI Bureau Breakfast and a business reception hosted by US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland for Economic Affairs, Joe Kennedy III.

Conor Murphy will also host a New York business leaders’ lunch, while Trade NI will host a large reception in Washington DC on Thursday.

Around 120 delegates are expected at the Trade NI business and economic reception in the US capital, which will also hear from the economy minister, Joe Kennedy III and the Northern Ireland Secretary, Chris Heaton-Harris.

It’s understood that Trade NI, an alliance made up of Manufacturing NI, Retail NI and Hospitality Ulster, plan to pitch Northern Ireland as a key location for US FDI.

Speaking as he arrived in the US on Monday, Conor Murphy said: “This is an important visit to strengthen our economic links with the US.

“I will be highlighting what the north can offer to US investors, particularly in terms of dual market access.

The economy minister Conor Murphy, pictured in New York on Monday.
The economy minister Conor Murphy, pictured in New York on Monday.

“I will also be opening up opportunities for local companies to export to the US.

“Securing new inward investment and driving up exports will support my ambition to increase the productivity of our economy, generate quality jobs and stimulate regional growth.”

Goods and services will also be heavily promoted this week.

The US is Northern Ireland’s second largest export market, with £1.9 billion of goods exported during 2022.

“From tech and consulting services, machinery to whiskey and transport and environmental equipment, we have lots of companies exporting successfully to the US and I am keen to see this grow further,” added Mr Murphy.

Invest NI’s new chief executive, Kieran Donoghue added: “The US is a key trading and investment partner with many strong ties between our two countries.

“Visit programmes such as this are important to continue to build on connections and partnerships.

“We are delighted to have the minister join us on this visit as we meet with potential investors and highlight our unique trading position.”