The Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, is in Dubai this week to fly the flag for Wales as part of St David’s Day 2017 celebrations.
In addition to a number of engagements to promote Welsh culture and increase business links between Wales, Dubai and the wider United Arab Emirates, the Cabinet Secretary will join a record 25 of Wales’ finest food and drink producers at the Gulfood Trade Show, one of the world’s largest annual food and beverage exhibitions.
The trade show is an opportunity to promote Wales’ food and drink sector on the international stage and help Welsh producers’ efforts to establish new business relationships and expand their sales into potentially lucrative new markets.
During the visit, the Cabinet Secretary will announce she is making £2.4m available to ensure Wales remains well-represented at high-profile food and drink trade events and visits around the world over the next 2 years, providing further opportunities to showcase Wales and world-class Welsh produce.
The Cabinet Secretary said:
“St David’s Day presents us with a fantastic opportunity to celebrate our people, our history, our culture, and, of course, our high quality larder of food and drink produce.
“Wales’ food and drinks sector is a success story. We are already more than half way towards achieving our target of 30% growth in the sector by 2020, generating over £260m from exports. Almost 90% of these are going to the EU, which is why we strongly advocate, on behalf of Welsh businesses, continued full and unfettered access to the European Single Market.
“It is important we remain an outward focused and welcoming nation. The challenges presented by a “Hard Brexit” are obvious but I am encouraged by the fact Wales’ food and drink sector is well placed to tackle the challenges we now face and grasp new opportunities.
“International exhibitions are vital in raising Wales’ international profile as they present the opportunity for Welsh businesses to prosper by entering new overseas markets. I am delighted, therefore, to confirm we are investing £2.4m over the next 2 years to have a strong presence at a series of important food and drink exhibitions and trade visits both in the UK and overseas including a continuation of our ongoing presence at Gulfood.”
Lesley Griffiths will also support an additional Welsh Government-led trade delegation involving 12 small and medium-sized enterprises from Wales aiming to grow their business in Dubai and the wider region. The delegation will visit the site of the next World Expo, taking place in Dubai in 2020. Expo 2020 offers significant commercial opportunities for Welsh businesses of all sizes and in many sectors.
Wales’ cultural excellence will be showcased in Dubai by the presence of the Welsh National Opera who will be performing Puccini’s Madame Butterfly and La boheme over the first 2 weeks of March. In addition, during the evening of St David’s Day itself, Lesley Griffiths will attend a special performance by a trio of Welsh National Opera performers at a ‘Wales - Business and Culture’ reception at the British Embassy in Dubai. The event will also provide a high profile opportunity to show Wales’ strengths as a place to visit, study and do business.
To end her visit, the Cabinet Secretary will speak at a celebratory St. David’s Day Ball organised by the local Welsh Club.