I am thrilled to tell you about my visit to Belfast, Northern Ireland today with Secretary Clinton. This is a particularly exciting time to be back in Belfast, as Northern Ireland stands at an important crossroads. Since May 2007, the Northern Ireland Executive has been reinstated under the process of devolution, which is a transfer of various executive powers to authorities in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is in a position to take control of its economic future, and has come a long way since The Troubles. As you can imagine, political and economic security are inexorably linked here. The investment climate will improve now as it did following the Good Friday Agreement and the cease-fires of the 1990’s, when the United States alone invested over $1 billion and created over 20,000 jobs. Maintaining the momentum of peace is absolutely critical to continued economic success.
This morning, the Secretary addressed the Northern Ireland Assembly at the Stormont, where she commended the people of Northern Ireland on their progress towards a lasting peace. Later, she joined a business roundtable discussion with Northern Ireland and American business leaders that I organized as Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland, a position to which I was appointed last month by Secretary Clinton. As the Economic Envoy, I am working to enhance trade and investment linkages between the U.S. and Northern Ireland – to the mutual benefit of all involved.
President Obama’s proposed Framework for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth, outlined at the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh last month, shows the United States Government’s commitment to improving economic opportunities all over the world. The world is facing the greatest economic challenges since the 1930’s, and we must all work together to overcome them. Northern Ireland, while it has suffered along with us, has faster growth than the U.K. average in employment, property prices, and foreign investment. There is much room for fruitful economic collaboration between the United States and Northern Ireland, and it is my job to see that it happens.
Today’s discussion, held at the beautiful campus of Queens University Belfast, was very fruitful. Movers and shakers from the business, entrepreneurial, and government sectors were chosen as counterparts to the working group formed during the Clinton Global Initiative last month. Today these two groups came together and got the ball rolling on mutually beneficial ideas and initiatives, particularly in the fields of higher education and technology. The goal is to improve Northern Ireland’s economic competitiveness, while benefitting the United States at the same time. Together, we will move forward on the road to economic recovery, and here in Northern Ireland – to peace and stability as well.
Read more about the Secretary's trip to Europe, her remarks following the business working group meeting at Queens University, or the previous and next Travel Diary entries.