This week our nation has hosted an historic NATO Summit.
In the last few days we have cemented our ability to host international events of the highest calibre. We have demonstrated our inimitable Welsh hospitality to world leaders and have sent the loud and clear message that we are open for business.
As a nation we should take immense pride that we rose to this challenge and delivered a Summit of such magnitude and significance: the largest ever diplomatic gathering of world leaders in the UK and perhaps the most serious since the NATO Alliance was formed in 1949.
Every step of the way we have shown Wales’s entrepreneurial ability and spirit. The NATO Summit could not have taken place without the strength and support of Welsh business. World leaders are returning home in no doubt as to the skills, talent and expertise on offer in Wales and the breadth and quality of products and services we provide. Thousands of the world’s media have seen what a beautiful place we live in and our breath-taking landscapes and rich heritage have been seen across the world.
Our global profile has never been higher.
So yes, the NATO Summit has put us on the international map and brought a boost to our economy. I am determined to build on this. The legacy of the NATO Summit must be to promote Wales’s potential as a great place for investment, business, tourism and education.
That is why the UK Investment Summit we are bringing to Wales on 21 November is so important. Wales is home to some of the most successful international companies in the world. The Investment Summit will showcase those businesses to potential new investors to encourage them to also invest in Wales. This conference will highlight why Wales is such a great place to invest. It will focus in particular on the high-tech sector, where we have a growing reputation for excellence.
At the Investment Summit we will invite top executives from international companies so that Welsh business can directly explore new export opportunities. Wales is an ambitious nation with a forward-looking economy, able to meet the needs of the international business community. We have a target to double UK exports by 2020 and the Summit will bring together new opportunities so that Welsh businesses help us reach that target.
I have always been clear that the NATO Summit should bring a lasting economic legacy to Wales. This week the UK Government announced a new £3.5 billion contract to deliver new vehicles for the British Army, which will be designed by General Dynamics UK in south Wales. The contract will sustain 1,300 engineering jobs in the supply chain of this state-of-the-art vehicle and across the UK in key defence industries. By attracting new investment and growing exports from Wales the Investment Summit will help to secure a stronger economy for Wales.
Tomorrow (7 September), the events around the NATO Summit will end with an opportunity for the public to ‘Meet the Armed Forces’ in Cardiff Bay. It will be an opportunity to reflect upon the crucial work and sacrifices that our Armed Forces undertake, and acknowledge the tremendous debt and gratitude that we all owe our service personnel. It’s a fitting way to end an historic week.
This summer we have demonstrated how Wales can rally together to deliver this once-in-a-lifetime event. It has reminded us, and showed the world, what makes Wales great. We will work with our partners to make sure that the Summit’s legacy is far-reaching, that more jobs are created, more inward investment secured and that our ambitious nation is kept firmly on the global stage.