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Sat 27 Oct 2007 04:00 AM

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A dragon economy drive

Wales' largest delegation ever will be showcasing the nation's industry at this year's Big 5 exhibition.

Wales' largest delegation ever will be showcasing the nation's industry at this year's Big 5 exhibition. The delegation is attending with the support of International Business Wales, the overseas trade and investment arm of the Welsh Assembly Government.

Lee Jennings, vice president (Middle East) of International Business Wales (IBW), said: "Welsh exports to the Middle East have increased by more than 200% since 2004, totalling US$680 million (AED 2.5 billion) in 2006. In fact, the UAE is now Wales' largest overseas market, with exports rising from $72 million in 2003 to $320 million in 2006."

One such firm is Teddington Engineered Solutions, which was recently named Regional Exporter of the Year by International Business Wales. The company provides highly specialised bellows and expansion joints which have been used in the construction of the Burj Dubai and Dubai Mall.

As a result of this, the company is now planning a permanent presence in the Middle East, with commercial manager Jason Thomas explaining that the company secured 65%-70% of business exports through contracts in the region worth almost $819,000.

A number of Welsh firms will also be launching new products at the Big 5. These include Conren International, a manufacturer of epoxy and polyurethane industrial coatings and waterproofing materials. Conren has been exporting its products to the Middle East for almost 25 years and will be supported at the exhibition by local agents Al Shirawi Contracting.

Export manager, Veronica Dawson said: "Our fast-track installation scheme for waterproofing should prove to be a real asset to construction companies. We're looking forward to presenting it at the show. We believe it has real potential."

Export Assist is a $26 million IBW programme, aimed at small to medium-sized enterprises based in Wales who are either first-time exporters or looking to develop new international markets.

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