EU and International relations
We’re committed to building international relationships in order to promote Belfast in targeted geographic areas. Our focus is on attracting investment, encouraging trade and developing our international tourism, cultural and educational links.
Our key geographical focus is on Europe, USA, China and India.
Belfast has strong links with the European Union (EU). This has helped us to secure funding and build close relationships with other European cities and regions. As well as promoting Belfast across Europe, we’ve influenced EU policy development and promoted EU affairs locally and in the wider region.
Two examples of initiatives within the EU that we are involved in are:
- Eurocities – we’re a member of the Eurocities network which allows us to influence and develop EU policy and legislation that will directly impact Belfast. Membership also enables us to develop partnerships and secure EU funding.
- Belfast Dublin economic corridor - in 2014 we signed an agreement with Dublin City Council to explore the economic potential of the 100 mile corridor. This has led to both cities working more closely to improve transport connections and boost trade.
Belfast has developed a number of economic links across the United States, and is a sister city of both Boston and Nashville. The Sister Cities Agreement seeks to strengthen ties through economic development, trade and investment, tourism, and cultural and educational exchanges.
Some examples of initiatives underway as a result of our sister cities partnerships include:
- Friendship Four ice hockey tournament - in 2015 the first ever college ice hockey tournament played outside USA took place in Belfast. 600 Bostonians and thousands of local spectators enjoyed the tournament which was also broadcast live in America and Canada to over four million homes.
- Tourism development – we’re currently exploring opportunities to jointly market the sister cities through our respective visitor and convention bureaus, staff exchanges and promoting each others’ cities as conference destinations.
- Irish American partnership bursaries – two Belfast primary schools from educationally disadvantaged areas have each received $10,000 bursaries.
- Academic partnerships – links have now been established between QUB and Georgetown University, UMAS Lowell and Fordham University (New York), while Ulster University has established links with colleges in New York and Washington.
Our relationship with China dates back to the signing of a Sister City agreement with the city of Hefei in the 1990s. Since then we have hosted a number of inward delegations and maintained close relations.
We signed a “Friendly Cooperation Agreement” with the city of Shenyang in 2014 to formally recognise our growing relations. For example, our biggest manufacturer, Bombardier, has a successful strategic partnership with the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation while QUB recently opened the Queen’s China College medical campus.
In the wider context there is already a wealth of academic connections between Belfast and China, including:
- The Confucius Institute, a partnership between Ulster University with Zhejiang University of Media and Communications.
- Partnership agreements between QUB with universities in Peking, Shanghai, Minzu, Jilin, Harbin and Shenyang.
- Links between Belfast Metropolitan College and Beijing Polytechnic.
We’ve been working to develop stronger relationships with India in recent years.
We recently hosted an event called Global India where we welcomed 350 CEOs from top Indian companies as well as senior politicians to the city in order to discuss investment opportunities and establish business leads.
In order to explore future opportunities, we now hold a quarterly India stakeholder group which includes representatives from Invest NI, the British Council, our educational establishments and representatives from the tourism and hospitality sector.