It’s a Happy New Year in Mid and East Antrim Borough today as Madam Wang Shuying, Consul General of the People’s Republic of China, was being welcomed to the Borough.
While there will be a Council-backed Chinese New Year Parade in Ballymena next Saturday, marking the Year of the Rooster, Council has today been ‘getting down to business’.
The Mayor, Councillor Audrey Wales MBE said: “I will be delighted to join the Chinese New Year Celebrations on Saturday, but today sees Council continuing to boost our relations with the Chinese community and representatives from local businesses exporting to China – but in hard business terms.”
In welcoming the Consul General to her Parlour at The Braid this morning, Cllr Wales was also opening important three-way discussions between local businesses, the Council and the Consulate-General.
“Securing Consul General Wang Shuying and her accompanying guests to the Borough is a great opportunity to raise our profile as an attractive investment location” the Mayor added.
“We are focused on Council’s number one strategic priority of ‘Growing the Economy’ and are committed to growing and developing local business to improve productivity and competitiveness. The Business and Chinese community engagement event today is not just about focusing on export led growth, but importantly showcasing our area as an outstanding location to live and work in, and as an attractive investment location for Foreign Direct Investment from Chinese businesses and others,” the Mayor added.
Cllr Wales explained that she had commissioned a necklace designed and handcrafted by a local firm, The Gem Blossom, as a very special gift for Consul General Madam Wang Shuying, Consul General of the Peoples Republic of China.
“The bespoke piece was made especially in the theme of the Chinese New Year, which is represented by the carefully selected colours and stones used. I want to thank Gem Blossom proprietor, Pauline McConnell, for all her exceptional hard work in producing this magnificent masterpiece”
“Today was a great opportunity to support local business and represented the exceptional local talent and the calibre of creative enterprises in the Borough,” the Mayor said, adding that, throughout the incoming year, Council will be investing heavily in growing the local economy, creating sustainable jobs and attracting investment.
As well as meeting local business representatives, the Consul General benefited from hearing businesses outline their experiences of the Chinese market as well as travelling to a local manufacturer, Dinsmore Textile Solutions, in Kells, to hear first-hand about that company’s export product range and trading activities.
A keynote address was then given by the Consul General – with an all-important opportunity to undertake some networking, with a view to enabling the Consul General and her accompanying guests to engage with local businesses and Chinese Community.
Taking time out from their own New Year celebrations, local representatives of the Chinese community were also invited to this reception. The event has been supported by The Executive Office through Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Good Relations Programme.
Cllr Wales said: “Hopefully all present appreciated Chinese Consul General Wang Shuying’s keynote address – I know I was very keen to hear what the Consul had to say and what her impressions were of Mid and East Antrim Borough overall – and more specifically – how she viewed the many investment opportunities that are available,” said the Mayor.
“This business and Chinese Community event was a highlight of the Borough’s Chinese New Year celebrations, which taken overall, will hopefully also underline that Council wants everyone who lives – or works – in this Borough to feel welcome, safe, respected – and celebrated – as we continue to Work Together to ‘Create a Better Future for All’,” Cllr Wales added.