Mid and East Antrim welcomes new Consul General of The People’s Republic of China to the Borough

Tuesday 14 May 2019

Council recently welcomed a Chinese delegation to the Borough for key meetings focusing on strengthening business and trade links between the two areas.

Mayor of Mid & East Antrim, Councillor Lindsay Millar along with Robin Swann MLA, Councillor Audrey Wales and Council Officers welcomed the new Chinese Consul General, Madame Meifang Zhang and her delegation on Friday (May 10).

The visit began with a visit to Cranswick County Foods in Ballymena, who are a world leader in the export of pork and other meat products from Northern Ireland to China. At the visit, Cranswick Ballymena Site Director, Tony Demaine, provided an insightful presentation on the history of Cranswick and on the company’s current links with China.

This was followed by a tour of the state of the art facilities at Cranswick. Madame Zhang and the Director of Bilateral Affairs Mr Zhang were both extremely interested in the company’s activities, in particular the work they are doing on food security, a growing sector in China given the size of the food industry there.

Martin Walsh, Financial Controller at Cranswick Country Foods said: “I am delighted on behalf of Cranswick to welcome Madame Zhang and the delegation from the Chinese Consulate in Belfast. China is becoming an increasingly important trading partner for us and we are delighted to be extending these links today.

“Our world leading approach to traceability, quality and sustainability has allowed Cranswick to secure permissions to trade pork products in China, one of only a few companies in Northern Ireland to achieve this.”

Following the visit to Cranswick, the delegation returned to the Mayor’s Parlour at the Braid to meet with Officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland, including the District Commander, Superintendent Darrin Jones.

This private meeting was to discuss the support being provided to the large Chinese community in Ballymena.

Finally, Director of Community, Katrina Morgan, and Director of Development, Linda Williams gave a joint presentation highlighting the work which council officers undertake with the Chinese Community in our Borough and the strong economic and cultural links which have been established between the two regions over the last number of years.

Mid & East Antrim Borough Council have undertaken a number of initiatives to explore and develop our international relations with China.

The Mayor said, “I was delighted to welcome the delegation to Mid and East Antrim and the meeting proved extremely beneficial for both parties.

“Our key strategic priority is growing the economy – with China identified as a vital partner to those investment plans, and closer ties offering huge potential for mutually beneficial business links through jobs and prosperity both here and in China.”

On Sunday (May 12), the delegation visited The Gobbins where they described the attraction as “breath-taking”.

Madame Zhang, said: “I want to thank the Council for arranging such a pleasant breath-taking visit to The Gobbins which has left a deep unforgettable and lovely memory on us all.

“We are looking forward to working closely with Mid and East Antrim Borough Council with the friendly, cooperative relationship we have now built upon.”

In providing the delegation with an idea of the array of high quality businesses and calibre of entrepreneurs located in the Borough, they were presented with gifts which included a bespoke brooch designed by local jewellery artisan, Vera McCullough.

The piece was inspired by the unique characteristics of Mid & East Antrim.

The delegation also received gift packs of specially commissioned Crosskeys Whiskey, a new and exciting venture spearheaded by local entrepreneur Vincent Hurl of Crosskeys Inn.