The Rt Hon Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister of Wales
I visited the Republic of Ireland (24/25 January) to promote Wales as a location for investment and Welsh businesses as partners for trade and commerce. Ireland is Wales’ only direct neighbour outside the UK and our second largest export market. Relations between our two countries are deep, long-standing and in excellent shape.
I addressed the British-Irish Chamber of Commerce and used the opportunity to emphasise the attractions of business opportunity in Wales. I also met several companies interested in exploring potential investment plans in Wales. Both countries benefit significantly from mutual economic ties and now is the time to redouble our efforts to maximise opportunity. I announced my intention that the Welsh Government will deploy an official in Dublin to work alongside colleagues in UK Trade & Investment on business links between the two countries.
I was honoured to meet the President of Ireland at his official residence in Phoenix Park. President Higgins is a friend of Wales and has visited the country many times. As a poet himself, and a former Minister of Culture, he has an impressive knowledge of our literature and wider culture. I informed the President of our plans to celebrate the centenary of Dylan Thomas’ birth during 2014 and invited him to play a personal part in those celebrations. I will be following up this invitation more formally in the weeks ahead.
Ireland is a valued friend to Wales as well as a hugely important trading partner. Our close relationship is reflected in many levels of society and I look forward to Wales-Ireland co-operation going from strength to strength in the years ahead.