Thursday 22 March 2018

Enterprise Ireland recalls staff in drive to new markets

Union flags are attached between buildings along Oxford Street in London
Union flags are attached between buildings along Oxford Street in London
Michael Cogley

Michael Cogley

Enterprise Ireland will pull its entire global staff home to help exporters here identify new markets in a bid to diversify away from our current reliance on the UK.

The State agency is calling in its global staff for a week-long think-in at the start of October where it will inform companies about new export markets.

"We have 32 offices around the world and the first week in October we're bringing home all the staff from the international offices and what they'll do is sit down in a one-to-one with companies in order to talk about other markets that might be relevant," Enterprise Ireland chief executive Julie Sinnamon said.

It is expected that around 70 to 80 advisors will return back to Ireland for the event.

Opening up alternative markets is the best long-term strategy for coping with the risk a Brexit event could lead to trade barriers between the two countries.

In the meantime financial hedging against volatility in the sterling market is the first piece of advice being offered to Irish firms.

The collapse in the value of sterling over the past week will hammer Irish companies exporting into the country's closest market. Businesses that have a cost base in euro and income in sterling will see margins squeezed and even risk being priced out of the market by UK rivals whose products are now cheaper.

"The first thing we're advising people to do is to make sure if you don't have hedging that you talk to your banks and that you understand and get good advice on the foreign exchange side, that's absolutely critical.

"The second part is helping companies to look at new markets, helping companies to look at their sub-supply chain, looking at their whole innovation and competitiveness side," Ms Sinnamon said.

Despite Britain's decision to leave the EU, the Enterprise Ireland chief executive said that growth in other markets will likely soften the blow of Brexit.

"The high-growth in the last number of years in food has been into the China market. It is predicted to actually overtake the UK as the number one market in a relatively short space of time.

"The UK is our number one export market, it was 45pc but today it's 37pc. I don't see us walking away from the UK market.

"The UK is still going to need to buy food, it is still going to need to buy timber, so there will be a re-pricing of products in the UK market as well as companies in Ireland needing to be as efficient as possible," Ms Sinnamon said.

Ms Sinnamon was speaking at the launch of Tech/Life, a new State and industry-backed initiative that will look to attract 3,000 tech workers to the country every year.

Tech/ Life Ireland chairman Karl Flannery said both industry and Government recognise the need to attract more talent.

Irish Independent

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