independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Brand Ireland must not lose out to UK

WE'RE a small country that in many respects has punched far above its weight.

But we're an island, and a small one at that.

Knowledge of who we are and what we have to offer can be limited in some of the emerging markets, despite the efforts of our embassies and diplomats.

Under the proposals, drawn up at the behest of both governments, we could very well see British cabinet ministers promoting Ireland on overseas trade missions. And vice versa.

The idea is to sell the two islands almost as a package. If you travel to one, don't forget about the other.

"It might well be that you could have a British government minister, or an Irish government minister, talking up the advantages (of each country). To say, if you're going to one of our countries, don't forget about the other one," a senior British official said.

It is one of the most intriguing aspects of the study and also involves the development of joint trade and promotional proposals in the agri-food sector.

And arguably, brand Ireland has more to lose from such a move than the UK, given that we're the much smaller player.

Is it akin to a coalition government, where the smaller party inevitably loses?

Any proposals must ensure that the distinctive character and identity of our produce is not lost.

"There doesn't have to be a contradiction between a strong national identity and a strong regional identity and collaborative work on trade promotion," the senior official said.

"You just require a little bit more thought about how you get that right."

Greater economic cooperation between the two jurisdictions is a no-brainer, especially on the island through the enhancement of the relationship between North and South and the development of an all-island economy.

The report sounds good in theory.

The test is whether it can work in practice.

Irish Independent

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