Rt Hon Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister of Wales
Last week I travelled to the United States to promote Wales as a destination for investment, business and tourism. My programme comprised engagements in Washington DC, Pennsylvania and New York.
In Washington I jointly hosted a Friends of Wales Caucus bringing together a range of Congressmen, business and diplomatic contacts. The Caucus was launched last year and increasingly provides a platform for raising Wales’ profile in the United States capital, and a major centre for defence and aviation business.
In Berwyn, Pennsylvania I was pleased to announce a multi-million pound expansion, and the creation of 60 new highly skilled aerospace jobs, by the Triumph Group in the Deeside Enterprise Zone. Triumph will supply Airbus with components for landing gears for the A380 and A320 aircraft, building on North Wales’ international reputation as a centre for excellence in the aerospace industry. (Members may like to know that Berwyn received its name in 1877 when one of its Welsh settlers proposed to name it after the Berwyn range in the Dee Valley, Meirionnydd).
At Philadelphia City Hall I met the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, Mr Alan Greenberger, and I hosted a reception in association with the British American Business Council of Greater Philadelphia. I used the example of Triumph, and the opportunity of St David’s Day, to promote Wales as a business partner.
In New York City I was privileged to ring the Closing Bell on the New York Stock Exchange as part of a celebration of St David’s Day. This privilege, which is afforded to few heads of government, illustrates the degree to which we are working closely with senior Welsh business partners in the States to maximise our profile. The Red Dragon flew proudly above Wall Street and made our nation visible at the heart of the world’s trading and business capital. I also held a separate reception for the Tech community in the heart of New York’s innovation and hi-tech district. It is immensely pleasing to note, and enormously to our advantage, that Welsh business people in the US are willing to work with us to help promote Wales as a business and investment location.
There are close to 300 US companies investing in Wales making it by some measure the largest single country investor into Wales. Collectively these companies employ some 50,000 people. The value of Welsh exports to the USA in 2013 was more than £3 billion, an increase of 400% during the last 15 years.
President Obama’s visit to Wales last year was symbolic. Relations between our two countries have never been better and the Welsh Government is committed to developing further our efforts to support the flow of business and commerce, in both directions, across the Atlantic.