Carwyn Jones, First Minister
Members will be aware that last week I visited Washington, Philadelphia, New York and Montreal, building relationships that have been established over the last few years and boosting trade and investment between Wales and North America.
I spent one day in Washington where I met the Irish Ambassador, Daniel Mulhall to discuss Ireland’s relationship with the US as well as Brexit. During a visit to the South African Embassy the South African Ambassador and I announced the good news that the Welsh Rugby team will play South Africa on 2 June in Washington. Wales and the Springboks have a huge global fan base and the game will help raise the profile of rugby in America.
I also met energy firm Valero following which the company announced a £127 million project which will create a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Cogeneration Unit at Valero’s Pembroke Refinery. This is a great vote of confidence in the economy of south west Wales.
Representatives from Eversheds law firm in Cardiff were also in the US to set out how their partnership with Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP to form Eversheds Sutherland has strengthened their presence in the US. The company also hosted a British American Business Association lunch which was attended by a number of US business representatives.
Later I met several Members of Congress and also attended the St David’s Day reception which was held on Capitol Hill with the Friends of Wales Caucus.
On Tuesday I travelled to Philadelphia where I met representatives of Purolite which has a facility in Llantrisant, and with the life sciences firm PCI which has 3 sites in Wales.
I then went to New York for a meeting with Thomson Reuters, which has a presence in Wrexham.
That evening I hosted a reception to mark St David’s Day and to support our Year of the Sea promotion.
On Wednesday I participated in a roundtable discussion with a number of leading US businessmen where we discussed the challenges around entrepreneurship, innovation and technology both in the UK and in the US and the skills needed to work in those industries.
Afterwards I spoke at the United Nations to highlight Wales’ commitment to promoting gender equality, linked to the UN’s upcoming Commission on the Status of Women. The session was chaired by Her Excellency Ambassador Ruth Andreyeva, Development and Human Rights Ambassador at the United Kingdom Mission to the UN. Also on the panel were La-Chun Lindsay from GE, Professor Emma Renold from Cardiff University and Dr Purna Sen from UN Women on Gender Equality.
That evening I met Hillary Rodham Clinton where we announced a unique collaboration between Secretary Clinton, Swansea University and the Welsh Government to advance the cause of children’s rights and to strengthen Wales-US ties.
This was followed by a dinner in support of Swansea University’s project to digitise the written works of Dylan Thomas, making them available in their entirety in Swansea for the first time.
On Thursday I travelled to Montreal to attend a number of meetings with businesses and representatives of the Quebec Government. I met the Chief Executive of CGI which has a significant investment in Bridgend. To discuss opportunities for stronger Wales-Quebec co-operation I met the Minister for International Relations, Ms Christine St-Pierre and Philippe Couillard, the Premier of Quebec joined the discussion by telephone. That evening I attended a St David’s Day reception that was hosted with the British Quebec Business Coalition.
On the final day of my visit I met the Mayor of Montreal, Valérie Plante and then visited McGill University where I met the Associate Provost of the University to discuss the strengthening of educational links with Welsh institutions. This was followed by a visit to the Montreal Neurological Institute where they undertake ground-breaking studies of the human brain – the lab is run by Welsh-Canadian Professor Alan Evans. Currently almost 300 Canadian students are studying at Welsh Universities and Wales already has strong links with Canadian Universities. These include Aberystwyth University’s exchange agreement with McGill University and Cardiff University’s School of Earth Science’s Horizon 2020 project with Université Laval in Montreal.
My visit to Montreal also marked the opening of the Welsh Government office, which gives us a permanent base from which we can strengthen our presence in Canada. This demonstrates the positive and proactive steps we are taking to increase our presence in key global markets and grow trade and investment. This has never been more important as we prepare for a new future outside the European Union.