Coronavirus: Mid and East Antrim Council ‘monitoring situation’ ahead of China trip

Mid and East Antrim Council headquarters in Ballymena.
Mid and East Antrim Council headquarters in Ballymena.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is still considering a civic trip to China despite growing concerns over an outbreak of the deadly coronavirus.

A delegation is due to travel to Donghai County in April to explore trade opportunities.

Cllr Gregg McKeen.

Cllr Gregg McKeen.

A spokesperson for the local authority said: “Council is currently considering its planned trade mission to China following the outbreak of coronavirus. We continue to closely monitor the situation.”

DUP Councillor Gregg McKeen, chair of the Council’s Economic Growth Committee, said: “Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s elected members previously approved council’s participation in a forthcoming trade mission to China, and we intend to fully capitalise on this opportunity to showcase the investment potential of our area to this global-leading market, as we look to deliver major, sustainable economic growth in Mid and East Antrim.

“As a relatively small,  open economy in a rapidly changing and globalised world, our ability to create a more productive and prosperous region depends more than ever on trading with the rest of the world and attracting investment into our economy, our businesses and our assets.

“Donghai County – with which council has a Friendly Cities Agreement of Co-operation – is within the province of Jiangsu, one of the leading provinces in China in terms of finance, education, technology and tourism. With a population of 80m, Jiangsu has the highest GDP per capita of the Chinese provinces and the province has more than 100 cities.

“Our borough is home to many companies with existing trading relationships with China and we have been working with the Northern Ireland Bureau and the Chinese Consulate to develop further opportunities for partnership, trade and investment from these markets focusing on sectoral strengths in advanced manufacturing, agriculture, tourism and the knowledge economy.

“During the forthcoming trade mission, the council delegation will work on growing government to government relations; promoting economic opportunities; identifying areas of mutual interest and share knowledge; promoting awareness of culture and tourism assets ; and promoting research and technology, including automation, robotics, healthcare and commercial developments.”

The number of deaths from coronavirus is believed to have now reached 106.