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First Minister on trade trip to America

Credit: Eye Ubiquitous/Press Association Images

The First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones will today fly to America visiting Washington DC, Philadelphia and New York.

He'll spend St David's Day on Capitol Hill meeting the Friends of Wales Caucus, a group of Congressmen who promote Wales in Washington.

From the Welsh settlers who moved to America to build new lives to the companies who now recognise Wales as a fantastic place to do business - we’re proud to have such a strong relationship with the United States.

There are 270 US owned companies in Wales and the value of Welsh exports to the USA in 2013 was over £3billion, that’s a 400% increase since 1999.

The USA continues to be Wales’s top export destination by far. These are figures we want to build and improve on, that’s one of the main reasons for my visit.

– Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister

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2 Sisters group confirms up to 300 Llangefni jobs at risk

2 Sisters food group has confirmed between 200 and 300 jobs are at risk at its Llangefni site as it proposes to move to a single shift operation.

We can confirm that as a result of a strategic review of our poultry operations, we have entered into a period of consultation with our colleagues at the Llangefni poultry processing site.

It is paramount that we simplify our business to ensure that we have the right products and processes within our factories to ensure we can sustain the high levels of quality and service our customers expect.

Therefore, we propose to move to a single shift operation in Llangefni as we reduce site throughput. This means some roles will be at risk of redundancy.

This will help us to ensure Llangefni becomes a centre of excellence for producing chicken meat to supply the food service industry and for transfer to our other sites for further processing.

– 2 Sisters

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Tata fined £200,000 after three staff suffer burns

Tata has been ordered to pay costs of £11,190 Credit: ITV Wales

Steel company Tata has been fined £200,000 after three employees suffered serious burns at the Port Talbot site.

Trainee crane driver, Kelvin Watts, had been moving a container carrying tonnes of molten metal when the metal spilled onto the floor and ignited in April 2013.

Mr Watts and his two colleagues, who had been supervising him at the time, managed to escape the plant but suffered serious burns.

The Health and Safety Executive prosecuted the company for failing to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of the workforce.

Tata has been ordered to pay costs of £11,190.

Given the potential consequences of a ladle holding 300 tonnes of molten metal spilling its load onto the floor, control measures should be watertight.

The incident could have been avoided had the safety measures introduced afterwards been in place at the time. Companies must maintain plant and machinery properly and instruct, train, inform and supervise staff consistently if they are going to prevent injury.

Reacting after the event is not acceptable and can be too late for some workers.

– Joanne Carter, HSE Inspector

More help for Welsh business

In his speech to the Welsh Labour conference, First Minister Carwyn Jones announced that the Welsh Government is creating a new Entrepreneurship Support scheme to encourage new businesses and jobs. It will be partly financed with European Union aid.

Wales isn’t just a great place to come and do business, it is a great place to grow your own business. And it is about to get better. Today I am pleased to announce the creation of a new £40 million Entrepreneurship Support scheme for Wales - this will support 10,000 new enterprises, and create over 17,000 new jobs over the next five years.

– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM

Wales sees biggest fall in shopper numbers

Credit: Lauren Hurley/PA Wire

The British Retail Consortium says Wales has seen the highest decline in shopper numbers across the UK.

In January they fell by 4.6% compared to a year ago. The biggest decline was at shopping centres followed by the High Street and out-of-town sites.

Meanwhile the number of empty shops was also up on the previous three months.

Our report ‘Welsh Retail: An Economic and Social Contribution’, which was launched this week, highlights the importance of the retail industry to communities across Wales and today’s figures will no doubt be of concern to many.

With almost 130,000 employees and 8,000 businesses Welsh retail is key to the wellbeing of our economy and we need be doing all we can to encourage investment by retailers and consumers alike.

We welcome the Minister’s recent comments around business rates and the potential for radical reform in the medium to long term. Retailers want to be at the heart of these discussions.

– Sara Jones, Head of Policy & External Affairs, WRC
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