There has been significant growth in trade between Ireland and the Gulf region over the past decade, with Irish companies increasing their sales in the region more than fivefold in the period, according to Mr Tony Killeen T.D, Ireland’s Minister for Labour Affairs.
Speaking at the recent trade mission reception organised by Enterprise Ireland, the Irish trade and technology board, Minister Killeen said, “Irish exports to the region had increased from €155 million in 1991, to over €600 million in 2004, a sales growth averaging 15-20% a year. Trade with the UAE has risen by 25%+ in 2004 with Irish purchases from the region showing a similar trend. Bilateral trade between Ireland and the region continued to grow, a positive performance in these challenging times for international trade.”
“There were many opportunities for accelerated Irish trade growth throughout the Gulf Region, with potential to increase sales in areas where Irish companies are already successful, such as software in the banking, telecoms and e-learning sectors, third level education, construction services and healthcare,” he added
Irish third level education institutions have attracted many students from the Gulf Region to study in Ireland. In the academic year 2004-2005, there were over 700 Gulf and Middle East students in Ireland.
Since launching its permanent regional office in Dubai, Enterprise Ireland has been working with a growing number of Irish and local business interests to identify export opportunities and key potential partners.
Mr Nick Marmion, Regional Manager of Enterprise Ireland said that the Irish business community in Dubai, and the positive reception from UAE business, had made a key contribution to assisting Irish companies to come so far in such a relatively short time. He said that Dubai had been selected as the ideal location for Enterprise Ireland’s regional office due to its strategic location, its open business-friendly environment and the rapid progress of Dubai as a GCC distribution centre and IT knowledge hub.
“We are excited about the substantial trade opportunities that can be developed and strengthened between Ireland and the region, and the progress that has been made so far,” he concluded.