NORTH Ayrshire Council leaders aim to forge closer business links with the key US market at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open which started at Dundonald Links yesterday.

Council members and chief executive Elma Murray welcomed a high level delegation that included Susan Wilson, principal officer of the US Consulate General in Edinburgh, to North Ayrshire.

They used the high profile event to highlight the value of the links between North Ayrshire and the US.

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The country is an important export market for companies based in the area, including life sciences, engineering and food and drink firms.

Some US corporations have operations in North Ayrshire, such as pharmaceuticals giant Merck.

Councillor Alex Gallagher, cabinet member for economies, said with the men’s and ladies’ Scottish Opens being held at Dundonald Links North Ayrshire had a unique opportunity to showcase its beauty and economic potential.

Ms Wilson said: “It is wonderful that there is a real appetite in North Ayrshire to do business with the U.S. This was my second visit to the region and I look forward to continuing to work with local stakeholders.”

She spoke at a networking lunch at the Gailes hotel in Irvine and visited RUA Medical, which makes surgical textiles in the town and exports to the US.