Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Local company packs bags after benefits of Invest NI trips

24 April, 2008

Sinn Féin MLA John O'Dowd has said he is deeply concerned by the revelation that a Banbridge textile company, Ulster Weavers Apparel, which announced last week that it was closing its Banbridge plant and moving its operation to China was part of four Invest NI trade Trips to China in the last four years, the last trip being in 2007.

The information was revealed in response to an Assembly written question by Mr O Dowd to the Enterprise Minister Nigel Dodds.

Mr O Dowd said;

"Here we have the loss of 45 jobs in Banbridge because the owners are moving their operation to China and the same company has been on four different Invest NI Trade visits to China.

"It was my understanding that such trips were supposed to open up export markets to business here. But it would appear they can also be used to export businesses lock, stock and barrel to China.

"I intend to raise concerns with the Minister for Trade and Investment about how these taxpayer sponsored trips could in fact be used to open up the attractions of a low wage high profit economy such as China to industries here.

"While I accept that the textile industry in particular has to compete in a global market and many factors work against them I believe that taxpayers and indeed the employees of such firms need to be reassured that Invest NI trips abroad are not being used as a cover for the whole scale export of industry from the north. ENDS

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