The UK, France and Germany combined represent 38pc of total Enterprise Ireland client exports
With global markets reopening after the Covid-19 pandemic, attention has now turned to Ireland’s export economy, which is considered vital to the success and future growth of both large corporates and SMEs.
This week heralds a significant milestone in our economic recovery with a three-day Enterprise Ireland trade mission to London, Paris and Berlin, led by Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar.
Significantly, this is the first in-person trade mission since the EU-UK Trade Agreement and the Covid-19 pandemic, and underlines the importance of the UK, French and German markets to Irish companies both now and in the future.
In fact, the UK, France and Germany combined represented 38pc of total Enterprise Ireland client exports in 2020, with over 2,300 Enterprise Ireland client companies exporting to these three markets.
The past 18 months have been challenging for Irish businesses, but true to form, they have shown great resilience and tenacity in continuing to trade during tough times, in many cases, radically changing the way in which they do business or even pivoting their offering.
In fact, despite the challenges of Covid-19 and Brexit, Enterprise Ireland client exports remained steady in 2020, achieving exports of €25.48bn.
Plus, over the last 12 months, more than 50 companies have set up a new presence on the ground in the UK, French and German markets, in such growth areas as digital technology, life sciences, construction, fintech, energy and transport.
That’s not to say that companies have not been challenged over the last year and a half.
Every sector has been affected, some more than others, and the purpose of this trade mission is practical, enabling Irish companies to meet potential new customers and decision makers in many different industries in the three countries.
The first day of the trade mission takes place in London, underlining once again how vital the UK market is to Irish companies.
Despite Brexit, the UK remains our largest export partner, and this visit highlights the strength of the ongoing business relationship between the UK and Ireland, one that we hope will grow and prosper in the future.
Highlights of this week’s visit include an innovation exchange event, attended by the Tánaiste, with UK local authorities and Irish companies.
There will also be opportunity for focused business meetings with key decision makers from the UK insurance and healthtech industries.
In Paris, much attention will be paid to large infrastructure projects, including meetings with Reseau de Transport d’Electricite and EirGrid, partners in the Celtic Interconnector project.
There will also be meetings with representatives from Le Grand Paris project, the largest transport and infrastructure project in Europe focused on mobility, sustainability and urban development in the Ile de France region.
The team will then travel to Berlin, where the Tánaiste will formally launch Enterprise Ireland’s fourth Enter the Eurozone programme, in partnership with the Berlin-based European School of Management and Technology (ESMT).
Meetings will also take place with Europe’s leading healthcare provider, Helios Health, and German mobility company Tier GmbH.
Over the course of the three days, the Tánaiste will also meet with a number of IDA Ireland existing and target client companies from the financial, telecommunications, insurance and e-commerce sectors.
And there will be plenty of opportunities for Enterprise Ireland client companies to meet and interact with powerful decision makers in all three business centres, the first time that many of them will have had the opportunity to meet in person since the pandemic began.
This trade mission is significant not only as the first in-person event since the pandemic and Brexit, but also because it is with three of Ireland’s most important trade partners – and ones that are vital for the recovery and growth of Irish businesses as we move into the post-Covid world.
It is hoped that the success of this trade mission will be replicated in a number of other global Enterprise Ireland missions, led by the Tánaiste, planned for the remaining months of 2021.
Tom Cusack is Head of International Sales and Partnering, Enterprise Ireland.