First Minister Flies the flag for Wales
First Minister Carwyn Jones is banging the drum for Wales in Washington today.
He's headed to the USA to promote Wales ahead of St David’s Day.
The First Minister will spend three days in Washington before moving on to New York to take part in a series of meetings and events to promote Wales.
The visit includes the launch of the Friends of Wales Caucus, made up of Congressmen with Welsh links who will promote Wales in Washington by staging events on Capitol Hill and raising Welsh interest at the heart of US government.
The First Minister will also launch the DT100 walking tour in New York, a tour of famous places linked to Dylan Thomas available in a book or app format to celebrate the centenary of the writer’s birth.
The visit will also include a number of business meetings with key US investors, including Airbus and the CEO of the New York Stock Exchange.
The First Minister said: “Wales has strong and historic links with the US, which date back to the very foundation of the Union. This link continues today with many Welsh men and women contributing to life on both sides of the Atlantic in business, politics and culture.
“Wales has been a significant partner for US investment for many years. It is the largest single destination for UK exports and is one of the biggest markets for Wales in terms of international trade.
“This visit follows our successful trade mission to the west coast last year which identified a number of opportunities for Welsh businesses, including a joint venture between Hydro Industries based in Llangennech and T&T Salvage.
"Shipments of Hydro’s marine water purification system commenced a few months afterwards and I am pleased that the company is going from strength to strength.
“Our programme of trade missions includes 6 further visits to the USA between now and the end of March 2015 – the first of which will be a delegation of more than 20 companies on a trade mission to San Francisco next month.
“The success of businesses like Hydro Industries is one of the reasons why we must be visible in markets across the world and the only way to do that is to take the time to visit and promote Wales to the fullest extent.
"We have a clear message - we are a great location for business, with a skilled workforce, access to the European Single Market and a unique package of support.
“This autumn Wales will host the NATO summit in Newport, with many Heads of Government expected to intend, including those in North America. We fully intend to maximise this further opportunity to showcase Wales as a whole.”
William Graham AM, Shadow Minister for Business, said: “North America is an important trading partner for Wales and improving trade links further has the potential to bring dividends for the Welsh economy.
“The First Minister must be mindful of accusations of globe-trotting at the taxpayers’ expense and ensure that this trip is productive and results in gains for Welsh businesses.
“Trade missions and trade trips are an important way of securing lucrative contracts for Welsh businesses, but we need to see evidence that the Welsh Government is actually making a positive difference.
"The choice of business leaders accompanying the First Minister in future trade missions is crucial and they should include academics seeking further sponsorship of great Welsh ideas.
“We wish the First Minister well in his trip and urge him to take every opportunity to showcase the Welsh economy, including what our tourist industry can offer to American tourists.
“Following one of Carwyn Jones’ most recent trips to the US, there was a fall in Welsh exports to North America, so let’s hope he’s more successful this time.”