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US Department of Commerce to be invited on Business Mission

7 December, 2007

America's Department of Commerce will be invited later today to partner the Executive in building a new and vibrant economy in the North.

The First Minister and deputy First Minister will tell the US Secretary of Commerce, Carlos Gutierrez, that they are in the US on a joint mission, with a common purpose and a clear message.

The Ministers will attend a business dinner for the Department of Commerce and prospective investors.

Sinn Féin deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness will tell the gathering that the north of Ireland is one of the world's "must see" destinations and that it is much more internationally connected that ever before.

"Only five years ago, there was only one direct scheduled international flight to Belfast. Today, it's possible to fly to Belfast from around 30 international destinations including New York.

"We've become more successful in attracting Foreign Direct Investment with over six billion dollars worth having been secured since 1996. The US is our most important market. In the past five years alone, Invest Northern Ireland has attracted 51 inward investment projects from the United States.

"Many of these have come from the innovation-based sectors of internationally traded services, particularly business services, financial services and ICT and from companies of the calibre of Liberty Mutual. Allstate and Allen Systems and Citi," continued the deputy First Minister.

"For international investors, we have high-tech expertise, industrial ingenuity and a great lifestyle to offer making us one of the most attractive inward investment locations in Europe, particularly as a nearshore location from which to service large markets. We have world class Universities in Queens and the University of Ulster, excellent R & D support and a highly competitive cost environment.

"The Executive has ambitious plans to create 6,500 new jobs by 2011 with 600 companies becoming exporters for the first time in the same period. Over the next 10 years we plan to invest almost $40 billion dollars to ensure that we have the infrastructure needed to support further investment. In all of this we remain deeply appreciative of the help we have received from the United States.

"Our people have put their trust and confidence in us as an Executive to deliver a better future. We are determined not to let them down. We are determined to deliver economic prosperity, fairness and inclusion for all our people,"concluded Mr McGuinness.

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