Wales politics

Carwyn Jones 'sure' USA trade mission will boost Wales

Carwyn Jones Image copyright Tim Ireland/PA
Image caption Carwyn Jones hopes to raise Wales' profile in Washington and New York

First Minister Carwyn Jones says he is confident his trade mission to America will yield results for Wales' economy.

His four-day trip begins in Washington where he will meet business leaders to promote Wales as a place to invest in and visit.

Mr Jones will also visit New York - the city where Dylan Thomas died - to encourage tourism linked to the poet.

Asked if the trip was a "jolly", he said it was no "holiday" and ministers had to travel to "sell Wales".

In Washington, Mr Jones will visit Congress, where he will address a group of 200 people with an interest in Wales set up by members of the Senate and House of Representatives.

He said the reception would be a "great way to raise awareness about Wales in Washington".

Building 'relationship'

Asked about the four day trip, he said: "I've got nine hours on a plane, straight out and straight into a two-hour event where I've got to speak and meet 200 people, so it's not much of a holiday, and then it's usually 12, 13 hours a day after that."

He added: "It's all part of the job. We have to make sure that we go out and sell Wales. No-one else will do it for us."

The value of trade trips has previously been questioned by opposition parties, but Mr Jones continues to defend foreign trade missions.

Image caption Mr Jones' trip comes a year after he visited San Francisco

"I went to India and came back with £800m as an investment, which came as a pleasant surprise to us in many, many ways.

"These visits, sometimes you get a short-term gain but also of course it's about building up that relationship over time, and that's what's served us well in terms of bringing investment into Wales."

He said direct foreign investment into Wales had doubled and "that's the sort of result we want to see next year and the year after".

Mr Jones added: "You have to talk to people. Pinewood [studios] didn't come here at the drop of a hat- we've been talking to them for a long time.

"It's the same with other potential investors around the world."

The first minister said he was "sure" significant announcements and launches would be made during his visit.

The second half of Mr Jones's trip, visiting New York, will take a more cultural turn, including the promotion of events surrounding the Dylan Thomas centenary.

William Graham, the Welsh Conservatives' shadow business minister, said: "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."

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