EXECUTIVE S INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS STRATEGY

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1 EXECUTIVE S INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS STRATEGY February 2014 Revised 26/02/14

2 THE EXECUTIVE S INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS STRATEGY 1. INTRODUCTION. 1.1 Key objectives of the Executive s Programme for Government will be to grow the economy and tackle disadvantage. This will require bringing investment, exporting opportunities, jobs, tourists, new skills and best practice into Northern Ireland. This will be achieved by promoting our capabilities internationally and developing mutually beneficial relationships with targeted countries, regions and international organisations. The development of an International Relations Strategy is essential to enable the Executive to identify opportunities, capitalise on all our international connections and build capacity and partnerships to enhance our credibility and realise tangible benefits for our community. 1.2 The International Relations strategy will provide a coordinated and focussed approach across all government departments. It will complement the other key strategies of the Executive including the Economic Strategy for Northern Ireland, the work of Invest NI and other departments and organisations including our universities, the community sector and NI CO. International relations can market and promote our region as an attractive investment and tourist opportunity and can serve to create economic, technological, and cultural partnerships. 1.3 Actively participating on an international level is critical to our success and future prosperity. We must also recognise that this is a very competitive field; therefore we must work hard at differentiating what we have to offer from other competitors. 1.4 We must aspire to be a modern, high tech, knowledge based economy with an international reputation for excellence as a place to invest in, do business with, visit, study and work with. 2. EXECUTIVE S INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS STRATEGIC AIM 2.1 Our International Relations Strategic Aim is to: Enhance our international credibility and develop mutually beneficial relationships with targeted countries, regions and organisations to secure investment, trade, tourism, students and to exchange knowledge and expertise.

3 3. INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES 3.1 To support the International Relations Strategic Aim our long term Objectives are to: Strengthen our international economic position and support investment, trade, tourism, agriculture,( this includes agri-food, agricultural science and services) community and conflict resolution work, science and research; Develop and maintain effective relationships with targeted countries and regions to help contribute to our Programme for Government priorities; Proactively seek opportunities for sharing information and best practice and build on our international reputation and experience for facilitating peace building and post conflict reconstruction; Work with the British and Irish Governments; the US Administration and the European Union to help promote our international objectives and identify opportunities; Build on our international connections and reputation in the areas of culture, art, sport and entertainment to support our strategy; Contribute to international development using local expertise and build partnerships with key organisations and countries. 3.2 Realisation of the objectives is dependent upon an agreed overarching and coordinated approach to developing international relations across departments and organisations here. This will maximise the return on investment, avoid duplication of effort, create a corporate identity and build effective collaboration across government departments and other stakeholders. 3.3 Whilst recognising that Departments and organisations such as Invest Northern Ireland have a lead role in particular international responsibilities (i.e. Trade, Foreign Direct Investment), OFMDFM s responsibility is to work with and facilitate co-ordination work across departments, establish government to government relations and help create international partnerships. 3.4 In pursuit of this: Ministers and Officials will commit to an International Visits protocol informing and detailing the timing of visits; purpose of visits and the sharing of outcomes with OFMDFM and appropriate

4 organisations. Visits should also complement and align international priorities and target markets to provide a joined up government approach. Ministers and Officials will take every opportunity to deliver a coordinated message internationally and to promote all our international priorities tailored to suit the target region. This will be supported by the development of country and sector specific profiles and action plans. 4. INTERNATIONAL PRIORITIES 4.1 The Programme for Government includes the Executive s key strategic priorities and these are reflected in the spending plans for the period A vibrant economy and social recovery are the key issues for the lifetime of the Programme for Government and effective international activity is essential in helping to achieve these goals. Success in international activity will have a positive impact locally by creating jobs, bringing in new money by way of investment, tourism, education and sharing knowledge to improve society. Creating and developing beneficial partnerships with other countries will also raise our profile as a global region. 4.3 All our international priorities and activities for this period will be aligned with the Executives key strategic priorities and spending plans, with the appropriate Minister(s) and Department(s) taking the lead role in their delivery. The priorities and activities will be reviewed at regular periods in response to global and environmental changes. 4.4 Our International priorities are: Establishing government to government relations Trade and Investment Maximising support from the European Union; Tourism; University and education links Research and Technology development Provision of Conflict Resolution expertise; Promoting sport and cultural opportunities.

5 5. MAXIMISING SUPPORT FROM THE EUROPEAN UNION 5.1 The Executive has a special and important relationship with the European Union particularly for economic and social programmes. Our targets are to increase the funding received from the EU, Learn from European best practice and to support EU policy on conflict resolution work. 5.2 The work of the European Commission Taskforce on Northern Ireland formed by Commission President Barroso will help us to achieve our economic and social goals through a closer and more direct long-term partnership with the European Union. 5.3 The Taskforce will enable us to: exert greater influence on the shaping of EU policies; become more firmly embedded in European networks. participate and access support from EU programmes learn from and share best practice promote our experience in peace building and conflict resolution promote research and technology development 5.4 The Executive will work with the Commission; the EU Task Force; and our elected Members of the European Parliament to maximise the opportunities in each of the areas identified. 5.5 The work of the Executive s Office in Brussels is critical to achieving our goals and to establishing a competitive advantage in Europe. 6. INTERNATIONAL PRIORITY- TARGETING AND IMPLEMENTATION 6.1 Our key priorities will be targeted on specific regions in: North America Asia/Middle East Europe South America Opportunities for developing other potential regions or partners will be explored, in the first instance, through diplomatic contacts with FM and dfm and in liaison with departments and key stakeholders.

6 NORTH AMERICA United States of America 6.2 The relationship with the United States is a key priority for the Executive. Our objective is to enhance relationships, beyond the Peace Process and across key areas such as government, politics, economic development, education, research and technology. This will encourage more trade and investment, share in research and technology exchanges, encourage tourism and support the US by providing expertise in conflict resolution. 6.3 A number of our departments and organisations are active in the United States and the primary responsibility for managing relationships is with the Northern Ireland Bureau working with the Invest NI office network. 6.4 The NI Bureau provides an overarching strategy to promote the Executive s corporate message and coordinate organisations engagement with the US. Organisations are able to develop their strategies for the US according to their priorities but the Bureau strategy enables cross departmental working and the sharing of resources and contacts to help maximise our corporate engagement with the US. 6.5 In pursuit of this: OFMDFM and the Bureau in Washington will develop, in consultation with other organisations, a cohesive US Strategy promoting a corporate message and complementing the plans of other departments, Invest NI, Northern Irish Connections and the Universities. Our priority sectors in the US will be: Government and political Ministers will build on the political capital with Federal and State legislators to create opportunities in our target sectors Economic Development Wealth creation, job creation, trade development, creative industries, tourism, procurement and economic policy. Investment financial services, software and ICT.

7 Research and Technology. Frontier technologies, commercial developments, health, agricultural and environmental. Education Develop partnerships between universities and centre of learning and expand virtual classroom programme. Encourage students to study at our universities. Sport and Culture Use sport and culture as public diplomacy tools to build and maintain relationships International Conflict Resolution Work Provide advice and expertise to organisations working to resolve conflict Identify opportunities to generate income Agrifoods AFBI to develop trade and research links in the US aligned with Invest NI We will build on existing contacts with the Irish-American and the Scots-Irish Diaspora, aligned with the Northern Irish Connections Initiative to help maximise and promote our interests. Canada 6.6 In developing our strategic approach to North America, our long established historical relationship with Canada presents a number of economic and tourist opportunities. 6.7 To maximise these opportunities, OFMDFM and the Bureau in Washington will develop in consultation with other organisations a Canadian Strategy. The Strategy will ensure that our collective message in the Canada is consistent and one of collaborative engagement. Our priority sectors in Canada will be:

8 Government and political Economic Development Education Ministers will build on the meetings in 2012 with political leaders at central and provincial government to create opportunities in our target sectors Wealth creation, job creation, trade development, tourism, procurement. economic policy and creative industries. Develop partnerships between universities and centre of learning Encourage students to study at our universities. Sport and Culture use sport and culture as public diplomacy tools to build and maintain relationships Research and Development Follow up on the Wild Geese network and Apostles work that has been initiated in Canada. ASIA/Middle East 6.9 Asia and the Middle East have become priority areas for many western countries and regions given the growth in the economies of the UAE, China, India, Japan, Thailand and South Korea, the opening up of opportunities for partnerships with other regions and the desire to exchange knowledge and learn from best practise to address our Programme for Government priorities. These markets also present economic opportunities for trade, investment education and technology exchange Although Invest NI has a presence in the Middle East, India, China and Japan and some local companies successfully trade within these regions and throughout Asia, we need to increase our access to these markets. Effective relationships have to be built up with these countries that will require government to government engagement in the early stages OFMDFM Ministers have established contacts with leaders and senior ministers in a number of countries and have recently completed successful missions to India, China and Japan and hosted a major visit to Belfast from Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong. Following the visit to Japan and meetings with government departments, investor relations have been established and actions are underway as part of a long term plan to increase the potential for new Foreign Direct Investment.

9 6.12 To further develop our activities: OFMDFM will work with the British and Irish Governments, Invest NI and other organisations and will coordinate a corporate approach to developing relationships in new markets Our priorities will be to: Establish government to government relations Promote economic opportunities; Identify areas of mutual interest to share knowledge; Promote awareness of culture and sport to further public diplomacy Promote research and technology including healthcare, environmental and commercial developments 6.13 To support this work: Ministers will visit China to meet with senior government ministers to further develop areas of work and partnerships for mutual benefit in the future. We will continue to build government links with a range of foreign government departments in order to strengthen relations. We will actively work with our Chinese, Indian and Japanese communities and investors here to develop further opportunities for partnership, trade and investment from these markets. We will open a Bureau in China to increase and enhance awareness of Northern Ireland as a partner region to develop mutually beneficial opportunities for work. This will support ministerial outward visits, inward visits, public diplomacy and sharing of knowledge. Following the success of the Ministers visit s to Asia, OFMDFM will work with Invest NI, Tourism Ireland, DARD, Northern Irish Connections, our universities and stakeholder organisations to build on the economic and other opportunities identified from the visit to India. We will continue to build on government and diplomatic contacts, international organisations, universities and existing relations

10 with investors and trading partners in the Middle East and across Asia to build on our presence in the region. Relations established with the governments of Thailand and South Korea, through their internal visits to Belfast, will also be enhanced through the exploration and agreement on areas of interest. Europe 6.14 Following the success of meetings with European leaders at the G8 Summit, the Executive will be proactive in building government relations in Europe, leading to more economic, cultural and educational exchanges. This will be in addition to the partnerships created through the EU programmes and will be taken forward at a number of official levels including building on the role of the NI Executive Office in Brussels to build on government to government relations with other European countries. SOUTH AMERICA 6.15 Potential opportunities will be investigated through government to government relations, the NI Bureau s diplomatic contacts and working closely with Invest NI and DARD. Invest NI s Internationalisation Strategy has identified Brazil, Chile and Colombia as priority markets. Country specific plans and events will be developed to exploit opportunities in a number of sectors and we will continue to build on trade links and government to government relations. 7. INTERNATIONAL PRIORITY TOURISM 7.1 Our objective is to promote Northern Ireland as an outwardly looking region, confident and contributing to international issues to raise awareness, enhance our reputation and encourage visits. 7.2 In close association with our trade and investment markets, our international tourist markets will be Europe; North America and with new and developing markets, including China and India. 7.3 In pursuit of this:

11 We will provide the necessary support to Tourism Ireland and the Tourist Boards in their marketing and promotion activities. We will work closely with Tourism Ireland; the Tourist Boards and other organisations to maximise a coordinated approach in the international target markets and present a positive image. We will work with a network of organisations to promote Northern Ireland as a world class place to visit and to enhance our international reputation for culture, food and drink, the arts, sport and entertainment. 8. INTERNATIONAL PRIORITY RECORD AND SHARE THE EXPERIENCE OF PEACE BUILDING AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION 8.1 We are sought out by many governments, institutions and organisations to share our unique experience of conflict resolution and reconstruction and the valuable contribution this can make in conflict prevention, resolution and peace building in other parts of the world. 8.2 There is an opportunity to build our international profile; showcase our experience; share the lessons we have learned and enhance our reputation by working in partnership with other countries. 8.3 In sharing our experiences there are added economic benefits to be gained by generating income through the provision of some services. It will also facilitate research activity, educational initiatives and generate international support funding and tourism. 8.4 In pursuit of this: We will create a partnership with the European Union, the US Government, Scandinavian Governments and the network of international conflict resolution organisations to share knowledge and experience and provide a tangible action and support service to countries, organisations and institutions working nationally and internationally to prevent or to bring about an end to conflict. 9. INTERNATIONAL PRIORITY INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT CONTRIBUTION 9.1 An important contributor in the success of developing a positive international image and enhancing opportunities for partnerships is a commitment to international development. Executive Ministers recognise our global responsibility to contribute to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and to contribute, with others, to help bring about stability in developing countries and regions. This can also generate real economic growth benefits through trade.

12 9.2 The Executive is limited in activity through both financial constraints and ambit. However, we can play an active role as world citizens by working with other organisations to identify areas for lending or sharing expertise to targeted countries and regions. 9.3 In pursuit of these aims: We continue to have strong collaborative work on international development with both the British and Irish governments. In addition, we aim to identify international and global parties to maximise our impact on international development work and focus. For example, the Scottish Government has identified Malawi as their area of particular interest and focus in international aid. We are working to identify suitable partnership options for us. 9.4 Key Principles. To identify regions and their needs that best match the experience we can offer and where we can maximise our impact. To focus our efforts to make the best use of limited resources. To complement and add value to the work of others. To ensure the needs of the developing region are paramount in determining our engagement. To support the promotion of Fair Trade. An advisory group on International Development will be established and will include representatives from aid agencies, NI-CO and individuals with experience of international support and supported by OFMDFM. 10. WAY FORWARD 10.1 OFMDFM will lead in developing and maintaining our international relationships with targeted regions around the world to further our objectives for future prosperity enhance our positive image and create mutually beneficial partnerships The Office of First Minister and deputy First Minister will establish an International Relations Unit building on the work of our Inward Visits Section and working with the Bureau offices in Washington, Brussels and proposed office in Beijing. The Unit will, coordinate activities via key networks across the NICS, liaise with Invest NI, AFBI, and other

13 organisations to respond to work based on either regional or thematic priorities and ensure coordination and alignment. The Unit will act on behalf of OFMDFM as a co-ordination point for gathering and disseminating information on significant internal and external visits, visits by ministers and international events. FM and dfm will undertake a series of high level external visits to establish or enhance government to government relations. An international network of Diaspora, people who studied here or have an interest will be built up with NI Connections and the Bureau to help promote a positive message and identify potential opportunities We will work in partnership with the British and Irish Governments, US Administration, European Union, International Governments and Regions, Local Government, International and Local Agencies, Business, Academia and individuals to tackle the challenges and seize the opportunities open to us.

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