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'Scores of major US corporations want to invest here' - Biden

Published on 12 April 2023

President Joe Biden delivers his keynote speech at Ulster University in Belfast.

New American investors will soon be coming to Northern Ireland "in their scores", according to US President Joe Biden.

For despite the US being on the cusp of a possible recession later this year, he insists corporations there are still keen to invest in this region.

And he confirmed that his special envoy Joe Kennedy will lead a major trade delegation to Northern Ireland later this year.

That will have been music to the ears of Invest NI, whose interim chief executive Mel Chittock was among around 100 specially-invited guests to hear the President's historic address at Ulster University.

For while the speech focused largely on preserving the peace and keeping the Good Friday Agreement working, he dedicated much of it to wider business issues.

Mr Biden said that since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, Northern Ireland's GDP has already doubled.

"But if things go in the direction I believe they will, I predict that figure will triple in the coming years," he said.

"Scores of major American corporations want to come here, want to invest. Many have already made homes in Northern Ireland, employing over 30,000 people.

"And in the past decade alone, American businesses have generated more than $2 billion in investments in this region. Two billion dollars.

"Today Northern Ireland is a beacon of creativity. Some of our favourite TV programmes are filmed here. Cruise ships are filling Belfast port and tourists are flocking in.

"And young people, instead of fleeing for opportunities elsewhere, can see the unlimited possibilities here, and they are at the cutting edge of sectors which will define our future."

Many key businesspeople from the north were in the room for the President's glowing summation of where the north is economically, and they accorded him a standing ovation at the end of a shorter-than-expected 20-minute keynote.

US Special Envoy Joe Kennedy also spoke about American investment in the region, including cybersecurity, adding: "Some of the biggest companies in the world have set up shop here, and now entrepreneurs with dreams to out-compete them are following.

"I look forward to drawing on your energy and ideas and to making sure we bring prosperity to all corners of Northern Ireland. It's a future to be proud of."

On a wider economic scale, it was thought that President Biden and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak would discuss a UK-US free trade agreement during the Ireland visit.

But this was scotched by Amanda Sloat, senior director for Europe at the US National Security Council, who said the two leaders had the opportunity to touch briefly on economic issues when they met in San Diego, a conversation which she said will be "furthered and deepened" when they meet in Washington in June.