First Minister, Carwyn Jones, continues to send the message ‘Wales is open for business’ as he addresses business leaders in Dublin today (25 January).

The multi-million pound importance of Ireland to the Welsh economy will be the focus of the First Minister’s speech at the British-Irish Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural annual conference.

Ireland is Wales’s second largest export market, worth more than £1.5 billion a year, and the importance of this will be highlighted to prominent figures from across the business and political spectrum in the UK and Ireland.

The First Minister will outline the strong economic links between the two nations and promote Wales as an inward investment destination for Irish companies.

“Wales and Ireland are not only close neighbours with a shared history, but we also have deep economic bonds that are as important as ever,” said the First Minister, ahead of the visit.

“The Irish Sea may divide us, but our economies are interlinked to our mutual benefit.

“Recently, the global economy has seen some tough times, and this includes both the UK and Ireland. Ireland has faced its fair share of economic challenges, but despite this the Republic remains crucial to the Welsh economy and our future prosperity are linked together. For example, Ireland is Wales’ second largest exports market with the latest figures showing that £1,532 million worth of goods over the year went to Ireland from Wales.

“We have 50 Irish owned enterprises active in Wales and employing some 2,600 people. Existing Irish investors include Kingspan, Smurfit Kappa, Sisk and Glanbia to name a few. Many of these investors are now on their second or third phase of expansion in Wales. Their presence in Wales gives them easy practical access to the wider UK economy. The Welsh Government want this level of activity to grow, that is why I am in Dublin to highlight the opportunities Wales offers. We’re very proud of our successful track record of attracting inward investment across sectors such as food, manufacturing, and energy.  Wales is perfectly located – we are close to Ireland and offer great access to the UK market.”

The First Minister will also highlight the importance of the EU Single Market to the prosperity of Wales and Ireland.

“Despite the extremely challenging times we are experiencing,” he continues “I truly believe that by coming together under the banner of the EU and the Single Market we will come through these stormy waters. By focusing on strengthening the business relationship between our two nations we can drive recovery and accelerate growth.”