Overseas network: Annual report 2022 to 2023
Each overseas network office has a remit to deliver the aspirations within the International Strategy.
In this page
This is the 2nd annual report on the work of the Welsh Government’s overseas network. The report for 2021 to 2022 is available on the Welsh Government website and sets out how the Welsh Government’s international activity was resuming following the Covid-19 pandemic. It also outlined how the Welsh Government was delivering the ambitions of the International Strategy.
This is an exciting moment for Wales on the international stage. Innovative policy approaches and achievements in sports, arts and culture have raised our profile and awareness of who we are and what we stand for. This has seen demand for increased engagement by international partners, in Wales and overseas.
The period covered by this year’s report has been marked by a series of devastating global events, particularly the war in Ukraine, floods in Pakistan and the earthquake in Türkiye and Syria. Whilst the UK government has led on the UK’s response to these events, the Welsh Government has been able to provide support to those who have been affected through the Homes for Ukraine scheme and working with the Disasters Emergency Committee Cymru.
We have delivered a significant international programme over the last 12 months, including Ministerial visits to raise Wales’ profile overseas and trade missions which are an important part of Wales’ economic recovery following the pandemic. This year has also had a strong focus on sport diplomacy with Wales represented at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, the Women’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, the Men’s Hockey World Cup in India and, of course, the FIFA Men’s Football World Cup in Qatar.
This year has seen an emphasis on projecting Wales’ values on the international stage, in line with one of the key ambitions of our International Strategy – to establish Wales as a globally responsible nation. The diversity of our global relationships means that not all of the countries with which we have a relationship share the same values or approach to human rights as Wales. Through our international work, we seek to engage constructively with partners and set out Wales’ approach to human rights, LGBTQ+ rights, political and religious freedom, inclusive education and fair work. Our approach to international engagement helps to portray the message that Wales is a Nation of Sanctuary and of values.
Overseas ministerial visits and inward visits to Wales
Ministers have undertaken a broad range of overseas visits this year. The First Minister visited Oslo to join Urdd Gobaith Cymru as it marked the centenary of its message of peace and goodwill and undertake a wide programme of diplomatic and economy focussed events. In May, the Minister for Economy led a trade mission to Qatar and also visited Airbus’ headquarters in Toulouse in October. The 2nd Wales-Ireland Ministerial Forum took place in Dublin and Cork, in October, and was attended by the First Minister, the Minister for Economy and the Minister for Rural Affairs. This Forum took stock of progress against the Ireland Wales Shared Statement and Joint Action Plan and had a particular focus on bilateral relations; trade cooperation and economic development; and renewable energy developments and opportunities.
Also in October, the Deputy Minister for Sport travelled to New Zealand for the Women’s Rugby World Cup to support the Wales Women’s Rugby Team and raise the profile of Wales, and the Minister for Education and Welsh Language travelled to Brussels to speak in the European Parliament on the Taith programme.
In November, the First Minister and Minister for Economy supported Wales at the Football World Cup in Qatar - the first time Wales had been on that world stage in 64 years – to promote Wales and project our values. In December, the Minister for Climate Change travelled to Montréal for COP15, including the 7th Summit for Subnational Governments, to help push the UN level states into action to reverse the loss of biodiversity.
The minister spoke during plenary sessions, participated in conversations and workshops around the 30x30 High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, and held bilaterals with other nations, including the Wampís Nation, Catalan Government, Québec Government and Scottish Government. Around St David’s Day, the First Minister visited Brussels and launched Wales in France 2023 in Paris, the Minister for Education visited Ireland and the Minister for Health visited Copenhagen.
Later in March, the First Minister visited the Basque Country to explore further deepening our cooperation and the Minister for the Economy visited the West Coast of the USA to develop economic links and promote Wales’ tech and creative industries.
Ministers have welcomed more than 30 international representatives in the last year and the First Minister has undertaken a programme of events to meet Ambassadors and High Commissioners in London. The London Office plays a vital role in maintaining connections to the wider world. The office supports our relationships with the diplomatic corps, including countries and regions where we have a priority relationship. It leads on our engagement with overseas companies who are based in London and are seeking to expand into Wales, as well as taking forward St David’s Day celebrations through Wales Week in London. The office has also hosted a number of events that have been economically focussed or aimed at sharing innovative policy.
Wales is now routinely qualifying for major international sporting tournaments which provide an opportunity to raise our profile and promote our values. In August, the XXII Commonwealth Games in Birmingham marked the launch of a programme of 18 months of sports diplomacy that continues this year with the Rugby World Cup in France.
Our programme started with a successful international event at the Commonwealth Games, with an inspirational panel of past and present Welsh athletes talking about empowering women in sport. An impressive international audience of government and sporting figures was present, including the Deputy Prime Ministers of New Zealand and Québec. Also in August, the Canada team used the Wales Women's Rugby team match in Canada to launch the SoftPowerCymru podcast – a series that explores the power of sport to foster relationships between countries. The Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport then led a programme of events in New Zealand in October for the Women’s Rugby World Cup, around culture, sport, indigenous language promotion and academic links.
The qualification of the Wales Men’s Football Team, for the first time in 64 years, at the FIFA Men’s Football World Cup in Qatar was an opportunity to truly put Wales on the global stage. We promoted economic and cultural links and demonstrated that Wales is a nation of values. Events were held across the globe with a particular focus on the USA and Qatar and Wales’ matches against the USA and England. This was supported by a significant marketing campaign and media coverage. A case study on the World Cup is included in this report.
In January, the Wales Men’s Hockey Team qualified for the World Cup for the first time. This took place in India, an important partner for Wales, and provided an opportunity to both support the Wales Men’s Hockey Team and raise the profile of Wales in India with a number of events in Odisha state, focussing on education exchange and sport.
We continued to directly fund 4 strategic partnerships this year with Urdd Gobaith Cymru, the Office of the Future Generations Commissioner, Wales Arts International and Academi Heddwch.
Two workshops were held with strategic partners over the course of the year, as well as regular monthly discussions to ensure that work aligned to International Strategy priorities. The collective highlight of the year was all partners engaging in the Team Cymru approach to the FIFA Football World Cup in Qatar, supporting activity to raise Wales’ profile and promote our values. Wales Arts International and the Urdd were responsible for supporting cultural activity. They, and the Office of the Future Generations Commissioner and Academi Heddwch, also participated in workshops in the run up to the event on values and how we promote these.
Broader work has taken place across the year with initiatives such as Wales Arts International and the Office of the Future Generations Commissioner collaborating on engagement in Canada as part of our Wales in Canada year. This included discussions with indigenous communities as part of the UNESCO Decade of Indigenous Languages.
Our engagement is not limited to these partners. We regularly engage others such as Amgueddfa Cymru, the British Council, the National Dance Company Wales, Atlantic College, Hockey Wales, the Football Association of Wales and others.
St David’s Day
St David’s Day 2023 offered an important opportunity at the end of the year to re-visit and build on previous work. We supported activity in London and across the world to build on the legacy of our World Cup engagement. In addition to overseas travel by Welsh Ministers, events to mark St David’s Day took place across the USA, Canada, China, Japan, India, the Middle East and Europe, led by our overseas network.
In London, we supported Wales Week in London through a variety of events showcasing industries -such as Fintech and Biotech - and international relationships such the USA and France. We delivered an international marketing campaign which celebrated Wales with a focus on our values and which re-targeted audiences introduced to Wales through previous campaigns such as the Football and Hockey World Cups.
- New Delhi
- New York
- San Francisco
- Washington DC
Our overseas offices network has 3 regions: Europe, North America and the Middle East and Asia. Each region has a focus tailored to its strengths, and Wales’ interests, as outlined in their international remits. This section sets out highlights of activity undertaken in each region during 2022 to 2023.
Our offices in Europe continued to work with partners across Europe following the UK’s exit from the EU. They have been proactively engaging with European partners to demonstrate that Wales remains an active part of Europe.
We continue to engage with EU institutions and take a leading role in European regional networks, with this engagement strengthened by the appointment of Welsh Government’s Representative on Europe. Highlights include:
- The First Minister met with senior representatives from the European Parliament and delivered a well-received speech at the European Policy Centre on the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.
- The Minister for Education and Welsh Language spoke about Taith in the European Parliament and met with EU member state and regional representatives on Welsh language, and equity in education.
- With Atlantic regions of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR), Wales signed a Pledge for a clean Atlantic Ocean.
- Wales House Brussels hosted the Network for Promoting Linguistic Diversity’s (NPLD) General Assembly, which included a speaking slot by Welsh Government on Welsh language policy.
- Wales has been appointed once again to chair the Board of the Vanguard Initiative – an influential and well-respected innovation network - in 2023.
We continued to promote Welsh culture to an EU audience, including the participation of Welsh poet, Grug Muse, in the Transpoésie international poetry festival, and a performance by Welsh singer Eve Goodman at a World Cup event. Platinum Jubilee celebrations showcased Welsh food and drink at 2 events in Brussels. A Jubilee event was also held in Paris for over 2,500 guests which included businesses, political stakeholders, UNESCO, OECD, and Welsh partners from the Brittany region.
Ministers and officials have continued to work together throughout the year to deliver the Ireland Wales Shared Statement and Joint Action Plan. Cultural links were celebrated at the Other Voices festivals in Dingle and Cardigan, and the inaugural Dewi Pádraig Dialogue was held in partnership with Wales Arts International, Arts Council of Wales and Dublin City University. The Future Generations Commissioner also visited Ireland to exchange learning on sustainable development goals.
A delegation from Wales’ Creative Industries exhibited at ARVR INNOVATE - Ireland’s leading immersive tech event - and a multi-sector trade mission visited in March, coinciding with the visit by the Minister for Education and Welsh Language and St David’s Day. The Minister for Economy delivered the keynote address at the Irish Sea Symposium on the benefits joint action can bring to economic activity across the Irish Sea. The Food team in Wales is working with the Food Hub in Cork on a food cluster.
The 2nd Ireland Wales Ministerial Forum took place in October, with the First Minister, the Minister for Rural Affairs, North Wales and Trefnydd, and the Minister for Economy visiting Dublin and Cork for a series of bilateral meetings with Irish Government Ministers focused on closer cooperation, renewable energy opportunities and future potential bilateral funding options.
Activity in Germany had a strong focus on the state of Baden-Württemberg throughout the year ahead of the upcoming signing of a Shared Statement. The Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg visited Wales, as did Germany’s Ambassador to the UK - twice. His first visit coincided with the German Embassy’s Careers Roadshow – an event highlighting career opportunities open to learners of all ages through the German language – which was being held in Wales for the first time. A trade mission from Baden-Württemberg also came to Wales.
The programme of overseas events in Germany focussed on supporting Welsh companies at Medica, Innotrans, Wind Energy Hamburg and the Start-Up Summit in Stuttgart. Following a global bidding process, Wales was successful in its application to host the Circular Economy Hotspot in 2024.
France is the next destination for our ‘Wales In…’ themed years so work has been underway on a programme of activities. Wales in France 2023 will provide an opportunity to celebrate the Wales France relationships we’ve had over centuries and reassert its relevance, revitalising existing partnerships and planting the seeds for new collaborations across the economy, culture, sport, innovation and more. The year affirms Wales as an outward looking, European nation with a diverse and advanced economy, known for its commitment to a fairer and more sustainable world. The First Minister launched Wales in France on 17 March in Paris, meeting with a number of French investors who have a presence in Wales and leading a Welsh delegation to UNESCO, amongst other activities. The programme includes using the Rugby World Cup in France as a platform to raise Wales’ profile and will build on continuing work with Brittany delivering stronger bilateral cooperation against the MoU and Action Plan, including supporting the Arts Council of Wales at Lorient Interceltique Festival.
The focus for France’s trade and invest work continues to be on collaboration in the tech industry, in particular cyber security and compound semiconductors, supporting the Swansea/Grenoble Strategic Partnership and representing the Welsh Cyber sector at the Forum International de la Cybersécurité (FIC), France’s leading cybersecurity trade show. Welsh companies travelled to Paris for the JEC World Composites trade fair, the International Aeronautical Congress and the SIAL food and drink show. The Minister for Economy visited Toulouse in October for an aerospace themed visit, which included a visit to Airbus and meeting the Welsh delegation attending ADS - the UK’s trade association for the Aerospace sectors annual seminar and networking event.
We also had renewable energy events in Norway and Sweden and supported a delegation of eleven Welsh companies and sponsored a stand at Ocean Energy Europe. In March, we had a visit to Wales by the Marshal of Silesia, Poland, to explore areas for potential cooperation and the First Minister visited the Basque Country to consolidate that relationship and explore new areas of collaboration.
In the USA, the World Cup provided a focal point for events aimed at raising Wales’ profile. Each office in the US network held its own events to coincide with the Wales vs. USA game. In the weeks leading up to the World Cup, our New York office hosted a series of events to raise the profile of Wales with a “Welcome to Wrexham” event in conjunction with Disney/FX and supported S4C to host a ‘Wales in the World’ gala.
Sports diplomacy was not limited to football. We worked with Wales Rugby captain, Elinor Snowsill, for a free skills session for young girls in Virginia and with the Welsh Government’s Major Events team to get the most value out of the WWE Clash at the Castle, including a business networking event taking place at a WWE event in Nashville.
We supported two visits from the Urdd. In April, the Urdd choir visited Birmingham, Montgomery, Selma and Atlanta. The visit saw performances in both Birmingham and Atlanta, including a joint performance with the University of Alabama’s Gospel Choir. The visit served to strengthen the close relationship between Birmingham and Wales and was captured by Avanti Media and aired on S4C. In September, the Urdd visited Philadelphia for the North American Festival of Wales (NAFOW) and we took part in a welcome ceremony there with the Mayor of Philadelphia with positive coverage on social and local media. The Urdd had a full programme of events, including meetings with local youth organisations. We also used NAFOW as a platform to run a city-wide street campaign across Philadelphia to promote Wales.
This year, we also advanced a number of educational partnerships as well as continuing to successfully grow our alumni network. We have supported visits from Cardiff and Aberystwyth Universities and have continued to work with Global Wales to support its efforts to promote Wales as a prime study destination. In March 2023, we helped to launch a new summer school programme between the University of Florida and Wales.
Platinum Jubilee celebrations across the US were used as platforms to convey key Welsh messages and showcase Welsh food and drink to guests. Following the successful repeal of the ban on UK lamb, Chicago was the venue for the first lamb from the UK and Ireland – Welsh lamb - to be served in the USA for over 20 years.
A number of events promoted exports and Wales as an investment location. For inward investment, these included Semicon West, RSA, Photonics West, Lendit FinTech conference and Money2020. We also supported a Welsh presence at major export conferences, including MRO Americas, the New York international exhibition for food and drink and Game Developers Conference. The Atlanta office supported a Trade Mission to North Carolina and South Carolina in the run up to the World Cup, with a business breakfast with Rob Page, Wales manager, and the delegation included the FAW Trust.
There have been a number of media pieces on the Welsh economy. Foreign Policy Magazine published an article about the transformation of the Welsh economy with a strong focus on USA-Wales trade. A campaign was run in the Wall Street Journal on the day of USA vs. Wales at the World Cup which focussed on USA-Wales trade and Wales’ compound semiconductor cluster. Following the success of this campaign, a further Wall Street Journal campaign was launched in March.
In March, the Minister for Economy visited San Francisco and Los Angeles, to develop economic links and promote Wales’ tech and creative industries. He led a multi-sector trade mission and supported the Welsh delegation exhibiting at the annual Games Developers Conference, as well as undertaking a wider programme of engagement with businesses and political figures.
Canada was the focus of the 2nd of our “Wales In…” themed years with reciprocal activity in Wales led by the Canadian High Commission through its Canada Goes Cymru campaign. A case study looks at the year in more detail.
The Wales-Québec Call for Proposals continued with a third round launched in July. In agreement with the Québec Government, we focussed on arts and culture, science and innovation, and green recovery. In total, 12 projects were approved, and the success enabled us to get buy-in from the Québec Government to run a fourth call in 2023.
We supported Wales Arts International at BreakOut West music festival and hosted a session on indigenous languages in the music industry as well as promoting the Gwrando programme for UNESCO’s Decade of Indigenous Languages, which coincided with Canada’s ‘Truth and Reconciliation Day’. FOCUS Wales in Wrexham provided a showcase for Canadian artists to launch the Canadian High Commission’s ‘Canada Goes Cymru’ campaign, pulling in FOCUS Wales’ Canadian partners which enabled Welsh artists to be showcased across various locations in Canada. We also promoted PRIDE celebrations, including support for Welsh participants of Gay Rugby World Cup 2022 in Ottawa, and a film screening of the Welsh-directed ‘Donna’ in collaboration with US Embassy in Ottawa and Ottawa Capital Pride.
Canada had a strong focus on diaspora, with alumni events in Vancouver and Toronto to promote Taith and grow the Welsh alumni network. A visit to Calgary by the Welsh Côr Cymru Gogledd America built links with Calgary’s Welsh Society and a visit by the Future Generations Commissioner included an alumni/diaspora event.
On the trade and invest side, we supported a trade mission to Canada with twelve Welsh companies mainly from the clean energy, tech, and nuclear sectors. We promoted MedTech and Cyber Security at the World AI Summit in Montréal and worked with the UK government to showcase Welsh products, including food and drink, at events in Ottawa, Montréal and Québec City. With Creative Wales, Creative British Columbia and the Canadian High Commission we hosted a reception for TV and film producers from Wales and British Columbia to look for co-production opportunities and highlight Wales' creative industry.
Ontario's new Agent General visited Wales to explore opportunities in creative, nuclear, manufacturing, insuretech and higher education - leading to a deepening of the relationship between Wales and Ontario.
Finally, when a Yukon-based social media influencer, Pavlina Sudrich, mistakenly said that Wales was part of England and posted an apology online, the First Minister took the opportunity to invite her to Wales using the Welsh Government’s recently launched TikTok channel. This led to a collaboration to promote Wales to Pavlina’s Canadian followers and beyond. The visit gained media interest in Wales, Canada and outlets across the globe. She developed content which promoted Wales' values, language, food and drink, Dydd Miwsig Cymru, sporting connections via Wrexham AFC, culture and heritage. The videos commissioned gained over 5.5million views, with high rates of engagement.
Middle East and Asia
Following the qualification of the Wales Men’s Football Team for the FIFA Men’s World Cup in Qatar 2022, much of the activity in the Middle East focussed on preparations for that tournament. A case study providing more detail on this is included.
In May, the Minister for Economy led a trade mission to Qatar, with companies from sectors including food and drink, manufacturing, training and education services. He held meetings with Qatar Airways and Cardiff Airport about the Doha-Cardiff route, the Qatar Free Zone Authority, Qatar University’s School of Medicine and the planning committee responsible for delivering the World Cup.
Leading up to the World Cup, we had events for diaspora and to promote Welsh lamb and other food and drink exports. With Global Welsh and the Welsh Government Envoy to the UAE, we helped deliver a programme of business activity for diaspora in Dubai around Wales’ group games. The First Minister and the Minister for Economy had programmes in Qatar for the USA and England matches respectively, focussed on promoting Wales’ values, trade and investment links and cultural exchange. In the months after the World Cup, the Middle East team has been following up on engagement, including visiting a ‘Landscapes of Faith’ archaeological excavation site (a University of Wales Trinity St David/Qatar Museums collaboration) in northern Qatar.
Work has continued building diaspora networks in the UAE and Qatar, and with stakeholders who met the Minister for Economy during his visits to Qatar and Dubai Expo. The UAE’s sovereign wealth fund, Mubadala, visited Cardiff to explore investment opportunities in the energy and fintech sectors and we continue to support Cardiff Airport’s engagement with Qatar Airways on resumption of the Doha/Cardiff route.
Trade webinars were held on the Advanced Manufacturing cluster, Arab Health and exporting to the Middle East. We were at the World Future Energy Summit, Abu Dhabi, and BIG 5 and DEAL in Dubai and supported Hybu Cig Cymru at the BBC Good Food Awards in Dubai. In January, we supported a multi-sector trade mission visiting Dubai, alongside a delegation attending Arab Health, and hosted an event for the delegates to network with diaspora in the UAE. In February, we supported a trade development visit to the Gulfood trade show closely followed by St David’s Day events in Dubai and Doha promoting Welsh food and drink, the Welsh language, business and culture. We also hosted a networking event in Qatar to celebrate International Women’s Day and promote Wales’ values around women’s equality and gender parity.
In October, Japan’s border fully re-opened. There was appetite for increased engagement with foreign businesses and the resumption of international travel was marked by tourism and trade delegations from Wales. A British Embassy reception for key Japanese investors was an opportunity to re-affirm Wales’ relationship with companies such as Sony and Panasonic ahead of travel restrictions being lifted. There are proposed visits to Wales by Japanese companies in sectors including green energy and semiconductors and a delegation from Oita prefecture.
Trade and investment work has had a particular focus on renewable energy with a delegation of more than 50 representatives from the Japanese green energy industry, including offshore wind companies, visiting Wales. In Tokyo, we hosted an event with the Japan Hydrogen Association with over 150 attendees. We supported a trade mission from Wales in October across the food and drink, creative/ tech, education, advanced manufacturing/ decarbonisation and housing sectors. Welsh Food and Drink was showcased at Mitsukoshi Department store and at a Leek Festival in Fukaya City. Welsh food and drink companies also exhibited at Foodex 2023 in Tokyo, with a sampling session held at the Ambassador’s Residence featuring chefs from Wales and a traditional Welsh menu. In December, we celebrated 50 years of Japanese investment in Wales at a reception hosted by the Japanese Ambassador in London.
The Oita Memorandum of Understanding, signed on 1 March 2022, has been a platform for a strong international engagement programme. The first anniversary of the signing was marked on St David’s Day with a visit by Amgueddfa Cymru/National Museum of Wales to the Oita Prefecture Art Museum. The third anniversary of the 2019 Rugby World Cup was marked with a series of events including meetings with the Governor of Oita and a reception with local businesses. The Oita Prefecture Government visited Wales and Oita University students went to summer school in Aberystwyth. Only Boys Aloud also undertook a research tour of Japan in February and March with ten public performances across Japan.
In India, we have had a particular focus on education links, including support for a delegation from Telangana who visited Wales as part of Global Wales’ existing partnership with the Telangana State Council for Higher Education (TSCHE) and university partners, with the aim of developing university to university partnerships. In terms of trade and investment, the focus has been on promoting Wales as an investment location for tech and life sciences, including an event for start-ups incubated at the Indian Institute of Science.
India hosted the Hockey World Cup in January and, with the Wales Men’s team qualifying, this presented an opportunity to raise Wales’ profile. The programme brought together Hockey Wales, Global Wales/Study in Wales, Welsh universities and businesses. We hosted joint hospitality events and achieved extensive local coverage. Events included school outreach at the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) with the Wales Hockey team playing hockey with the local children and a separate friendly rugby game with staff. We had a visit to the Kalinga Institute of Social Science (KISS) with discussions about student/staff/academic exchange, a round table on Women in Technology/STEM and met Odisha state’s Chief Minister. We visited the Tata Naval Hockey Academy with Hockey Wales in advance of the Wales vs India match at the Kalinga Stadium and hosted a Wales reception as well as learning about the KIIT, KISS and Tata Naval Academy’s support for children from low-economic backgrounds to support their training to become future national hockey stars.
Covid-19 continued to impact activity in China with all offices experiencing extended periods of lockdown, postponing activity or delivering virtually. Education links were a particular focus, working with universities on student recruitment and partnership opportunities, including promoting Taith. We delivered alumni events, supported Jubilee celebrations and developed a programme with the Football Association of Wales to promote Welsh football to the China market in the run up to World Cup.
We supported Welsh exporters interested in China, with a particular focus on the life sciences and food and drink sectors. There was an uplift in interest around Welsh food and drink at the China Food & Drinks Fair in Chengdu.
FIFA World Cup, Qatar 2022 (20 November 2022 to 18 December 2022)
June 2022, the Wales Cymru men’s national football team qualified for the FIFA World Cup finals for the first time in 64 years. The tournament was a unique opportunity to promote Wales on a global stage.
There were 4 key objectives for this World Cup – promote Wales; project our values; ensure the safety of Welsh citizens and secure a positive legacy from our participation. The activity in Wales, and around the world, was an opportunity to raise concerns about workers’ and LGBTQ+ rights in Qatar as well as set out Wales’ values on a global stage.
The Welsh Government offices in Doha and Dubai were the focus for the activity taking place around the matches but the tournament also provided opportunities for the rest of the overseas network to carry out activity to promote Wales and our values.
A month prior to the World Cup, the Middle East Welsh Government Offices, working in collaboration with Food and Drink Division, organised a dinner to showcase Welsh food and drink exports - including Welsh lamb - at the Ambassador’s residence for 40 key buyers in Qatar across retail and hospitality.
In the Middle East, the First Minister and the Minister for Economy travelled to Doha to support Wales in the group stages. Written statements were published on 28 November and 5 December outlining the breadth of the programmes undertaken by both ministers which included cultural, economic and diplomatic engagements.
As well as delivering 2 ministerial programmes, activity in the Middle East for the World Cup was wide-ranging.
The Middle East team worked with partners to launch the Bucket Hat installation on the Corniche in Doha to promote Wales at the tournament, provide Welsh content in the UK GREAT Garden Pavilion and Festival and a Welsh-themed reception, hosted by the British Ambassador to Qatar. The Bucket Hat became a focal point for global media featuring in images broadcast across the world.
To promote Welsh culture, the team supported the Urdd to deliver school workshops and choral performances, as well as working with Wales Arts International to deliver a range of cultural performances by Welsh performers and artists. Events were held for Welsh diaspora in the Middle East, working with partners, such as Global Welsh who held a reception in the Consul-General’s residence garden in Dubai for 100 guests. The Welsh Government team in Doha held a networking breakfast for 35 members of the diaspora in Qatar.
In the USA, there was an ambitious programme of activity centred around the Wales vs. US game. The Minister for Economy visited Washington DC to lead the Welsh Government’s World Cup activity and advance relationships with key political and business contacts in DC. The visit included a roundtable with key inward investors, a meeting with the Deputy Mayor of DC, as well as the flagship Soccer in the Circle screening of the Wales vs USA game at the Dupont Festival. The visit generated positive media coverage in the USA and Wales.
The US team in New York supported S4C to deliver a concert in the city as well as hosting other events, including a screening of ‘Welcome to Wrexham’, panel discussions and a watch party. An e-gaming competition, linked to a FIFA gaming tournament, was held in Atlanta, whilst business and diaspora receptions were held in Chicago and Los Angeles. Additional activity was undertaken around this game, including a LinkedIn campaign on the West Coast promoting Wales as a business destination, a visit to Mumbles ‘Sister City’ to build on that relationship and visits from an Urdd artist to capture the Wales vs US match. We had media activity around the game including features in the Washington Post, FOX5, HANSH and various local radio stations in the USA. Activity was also delivered in partnership with the UK government around the England vs. Wales game.
Events for the games were held across Canada in Halifax, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver using old and new diaspora contacts developed through our Wales in Canada year.
The next FIFA World Cup will be held across North America in 2026 and this activity provides a useful platform to learn from and develop future activity for the next tournament in 4 years’ time.
Events were held across Europe in Brussels, Dublin, Paris and Berlin. In Dublin, the team joined the US Embassy to Ireland to co-host a screening of the Wales vs. USA game and hosted an in-conversation event with Noel Mooney, CEO of the FAW, Neville Southall and Ian Rush. Brussels used the tournament as a platform to host a panel event, in partnership with the UK Mission to the EU, on diversity and inclusion in football with speakers from the Football Association of Wales (FAW), the Premier League and the European Parliament. In France, a “C’mon Cymru” banner was placed at the entrance of British Embassy in Paris. Both of the events in Berlin featured Welsh food and drink, attracting over 100 stakeholders to each.
London’s Southbank hosted Tŷ Cymru/Wales Dome for four days in November. A variety of events took place in the Dome including a fintech inward investment panel discussion, Welsh language events, arts screenings and a performance by Ysgol Gymraeg Llundain and Griffin Primary school.
In Japan, the team worked with a Japanese football influencer and media organisations to promote Wales and the Red Wall and developed stories around the Welsh players. A public viewing of the Wales vs. Iran match in Himeji City attracted a large audience and Kitakyushu Kokura Castle supported the Welsh national football team with a social media campaign.
Unfortunately, Covid restrictions in China impacted on the team’s ability to deliver planned events such as a football festival in Beijing and an FAW demonstration event in Chongqing. However, the Shanghai office was able to work with the FAW to deliver five-a-side football matches with Welsh alumni, key businesses contacts and local football clubs, meaning that, despite restrictions and setbacks, the China team made the best of the opportunities that the World Cup presented.
Wales in Canada 2022
The ‘Wales in…’ themed years are designed to strengthen the relationship between Wales and the partner country and provide a strategic focus to our activity. They are about building connections – new and old. In 2021, the Welsh Government ran its first “Wales in…” campaign called ‘Wales in Germany 2021’. Following the success in Germany, it was decided to continue the ‘Wales in...’ project for 2 more years, with Wales in Canada 2022 followed by Wales in France 2023.
Objectives for Wales in Canada 2022
Montréal is the home of the Welsh Government in Canada, and the relationship between the Welsh Government and stakeholders in Québec, particularly the Québec Government, has gone from strength to strength since opening the office there in 2018. Wales in Canada 2022 presented an opportunity to strengthen and deepen existing relationships in Quebec and build on this work to forge new partnerships and increase Wales’ visibility across other parts of Canada.
The Canada team identified 4 main objectives for the year:
- Engage a wider audience, including growing the Canadian diaspora network.
- Build on and deepen our strong relationship with Québec.
- Develop and grow new partnerships in Provinces and Territories across Canada.
- Create a legacy that continues to add value to delivery of the International Strategy in the Canadian market once the Wales in Canada year is over.
We delivered more than 35 activities across seven provinces in Canada, as well as virtual activities which engaged millions of people.
Engaging with diaspora
To maximise reach and develop a long-lasting network of new contacts, we focused on 3 things: positive media coverage; increased comms and outreach through social media; and growing and diversifying our diaspora across Canada.
We were featured on 3 Canadian television networks - CBC, CTV and TSN – and 3 Welsh television networks - BBC Wales, ITV Wales, and S4C. We featured in one full length op-ed in the Globe and Mail - Canada’s most widely read newspaper with a national readership of over 7 million people. Separately, one full length op-ed was written entirely in Welsh to mark Wales’ qualification to the Football World Cup. We also secured an audio interview for the First Minister with CBC.
Our collaboration with a Canadian social media influencer from the Yukon generated over 5.3 million views for the commissioned Wales content across TikTok and Instagram alone, with nearly 750,000 likes and a high level of user engagement.
To grow our diaspora network across Canada, we held alumni and diaspora networking events in Toronto, Halifax and Vancouver, working with Global Wales, other stakeholders and local diaspora organisations to reach Welsh alumni and new contacts with an affiliation to Wales. Later in the year, we held World Cup events as part of Welsh Government’s campaign around the Qatar World Cup – in Halifax, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.
Deepen relationship with Québec
We hosted Wales’ Future Generations Commissioner and Wales Arts International (WAI) over the year. The Future Generations Commissioner’s visit included engagement with McGill University, a virtual seminar with panellists from across Canada. WAI visited the Société des Arts Technologiques (SAT) and met with the Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec (CALQ). Together with CALQ, WAI announced three reciprocal artistic residencies between Wales and Québec, with the first taking place at the Centre des Musiciens du Monde in Montréal in autumn 2023.
The new Agent General of Québec in the UK, Line Rivard, travelled to Wales for her first visit meeting with the First Minister, touring the Senedd, and meeting with several key partners of Québec in Wales.
Develop new relationships across Canada
There are opportunities and synergies for Wales across Canada, particularly in Ontario, British Columbia and the Maritime Provinces due to population size, key industries such as renewable energy and tech, and a good general understanding of what and where Wales is. The following is a snapshot of activity from across each of the provinces.
Alumni Reception Toronto
In collaboration with Global Wales, we held an evening reception to reach Welsh alumni and new contacts with an affiliation to Wales. This was also an opportunity to celebrate Global Wales’ postgraduate scholarship which had been made available to students from Canada as part of the Wales in Canada year.
Doors Open Ottawa
A 'street party' style event at the UK residence open to the public. At the event, we ran a Welsh stand with an immersive Welsh tourism experience using VR headsets. Over 2,000 visitors attended the event.
British Columbia, Alberta and The Yukon
Policy roundtable between the Future Generations Commissioner and Vancouver Economic Commission (VEC)
Focussed on First Nations approaches to well-being and knowledge sharing between Wales and Canada.
Breakout West Festival
In collaboration with FOCUS Wales, we supported three showcase concerts to highlight the Welsh artists and held a music session with Welsh and Indigenous languages artists. On Truth and Reconciliation Day, WAI and a member of the Welsh band, Adwaith, spoke on a panel on the role music plays in protecting and promoting indigenous languages.
Promoting Wales via a Yukon-based social media influencer
The First Minister responded to Yukon social media content-creator Pavlina Sudrich’s message of apology to Wales after mistakenly saying Wales was part of England. The First Minister’s message was posted from the Welsh Government's recently launched TikTok channel and gained ten times the views of typical posts on that channel.
Welsh Women Rugby Team in Canada
Wales and Canada played each other in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the run-up to the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in October 2022. We hosted local business, political, and diaspora contacts and undertook some sponsorship to market tourism to Wales.
We have increased and diversified the diaspora and Friends of Wales network which has enabled us to reach a wider local audience in major locations where the Welsh Government does not have a physical presence. We have increased visibility for Wales and Wales’ messages in Canada and we have a trackable pipeline of collaborations and joint activities to strengthen relationships between Wales and stakeholders in Canada.
Examples to date include:
- Extension of the Global Wales Postgraduate Scholarship to students from Canada. This Scholarship aims to encourage more links between higher education institutions in Wales and those in Canada.
- Wales Arts International have signed an agreement with the Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec (CALQ) for three reciprocal artistic residencies between Wales and Québec, supporting 6 artists.
- Ongoing discussions with the Ontario Government about signing a memorandum of understanding across a range of sectors for mutual benefit, with an accompanying action plan.
- 12 joint projects between Welsh and Québec-based stakeholders to be undertaken in 2023, with a 4th Call for Proposals to be launched in 2023.
- Engaging online content that delivers our key messages and raises awareness about Wales across a diverse set of platforms.
Relationship with Europe
The Welsh Government is committed to continued engagement with Europe, including through European institutions, networks and priority national and regional relationships. This is reflected in our Programme for Government commitment to retain the Welsh Government Brussels Office, and the appointment of Derek Vaughan, the Welsh Government Representative on Europe in January 2022.
Our team in Brussels drives Welsh Government’s proactive and positive engagement with its European partners, with three main aims:
- Reinforce Welsh Government’s commitment to working with European partners on shared policy interests – education, research and innovation, climate, environment, energy, agriculture, coastal and maritime issues, social justice and equality.
- Raise the profile of Wales and the Welsh Government’s unique policies that contribute to shared policy interests – for example, the Taith learning exchange programme, basic income pilot, single-use plastics ban and our pioneering Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.
- Monitor and analyse EU policy developments which may have implications for Wales and Welsh Government policy.
The role of our European Representative strengthens our ability to engage with European Institutions in particular, resulting in increased awareness and understanding of Wales and Welsh Government policies. Derek Vaughan brings a strong background and knowledge of the European institutions, which has been of benefit to our engagement there.
An example of this is that the Welsh Government was asked to host an event highlighting the Taith programme in the European Parliament, including an audience of MEPs and EU learning mobility stakeholders.
The Welsh Government’s Brussels team works closely with other Welsh organisations, such as Welsh Higher Education Brussels and the Senedd, who both have a presence in Wales House. This joined-up “Team Wales” approach helps to maximise the impact and visibility of Wales’ EU engagement efforts. Wales continues to be invited to work with the European Parliament and other institutions, for example the Committee of Regions, on other events where distinct Welsh policy approaches can be highlighted.
The Brussels Office also leads our engagement with a number of European networks, in particular the Vanguard Initiative - which Wales is chairing in 2023 - and the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR), which will be hosting its General Assembly of Atlantic regions in Cardiff in May 2023. Our engagement in EU networks provides a platform for the Welsh Government to engage with European partners on shared policy interests, as well as raise Wales’ profile.
The Welsh Government is committed to bilateral engagement with European nations and regions, including through our Ireland Wales Shared Statement and Joint Action Plan as well as Memoranda of Understanding with several regions, including Brittany and the Basque Country. Our Brussels team and European Representative strengthen relationships through engagement with those regions’ offices in Brussels, and their representatives in the European Parliament and Committee of the Regions.