19 Ministers travelling to 21 countries to take part in over 150 business events and 30 high-level political meetings as part of St Patrick’s Day “Promote Ireland” programme

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore T.D., and the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton T.D., today (Wednesday, 13th March) launched the year-long programme of Ministerial events targeting trade and investment for Ireland in 2013.

Today’s announcement includes details of the Government’s St. Patrick’s Day “Promote Ireland” programme and the Enterprise Ireland programme of trade missions and international activity for 2013.

Today’s announcement took place in The Now Factory, an innovative exporting Irish telecommunications company which has benefited from recent trade missions and secured major overseas contracts , and most recently travelled to Texas on the trade mission of 40 companies led by Minister Bruton last week.

Delivering an intensive programme of Ministerial-led trade missions is a key commitment in the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs 2013. The number of Ministerial-led Enterprise Ireland trade missions has more than doubled since 2011.

St. Patrick’s Day “Promote Ireland” programme

This year will see 19 Government Ministers, including the Tánaiste, travel to 21 countries across North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia for a series of trade, investment and tourism-focused programmes.

Ministers will participate in over 150 business-related events, 30+ high-level political meetings – including bilaterals with US President Barack Obama and US Secretary of State John Kerry – along with cultural, networking and Irish community events throughout the St. Patrick’s Day period. Hundreds of companies will participate in events and meetings as part of this Ministerial-led programme.

Several new destinations have been included in this year’s St. Patrick’s Day programme for the first time. They include Indonesia and the Philippines, two of the fastest growing economies in the world with combined populations of 350 million, and Saudi Arabia, which has also been added for the first time in a decade after Irish goods exports to the country spiked by 20% in 2012.

Japan and South Korea are also back on the St Patrick’s Day country list for the first time since 2010 after Irish goods exports to those countries rose by 20.5% and 18%, respectively, last year.

The Tánaiste is due to travel to Atlanta, Georgia, where he will host an ‘Invest in Ireland’ business forum for over 20 IDA target companies. His Atlanta programme also includes several meetings with US and Irish companies such as Coca-Cola, Delta and Oldcastle. The Tánaiste will also travel to New Orleans and Washington D.C. for further business networking and cultural events, and meetings with President Obama and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Minister Bruton will travel to Germany for a 4-day programme in Munich, Cologne and Dusseldorf, which includes an event in Munich with 100 companies, 8 meetings with IDA and Enterprise Ireland target companies, 3 Bord Bia events as well as a meeting with Prof Brend Venohr, a renowned expert on the Mittelstand sector of mid-sized employment-intensive companies. The programme, which is the 14th major trade/investment mission Minister Bruton has undertaken in 24 months in office, will also include a series of Irish community/cultural events.

Launching the St. Patrick’s Day Promote Ireland programme the Tánaiste said:

“As our number-one export market and the source of 80 percent of all foreign direct investment to Ireland, North America was a key target for us in devising this year’s ministerial travel programme.

“I look forward to working with our Embassy network and the state agencies, Enterprise Ireland, the IDA, Tourism Ireland and Bord Bia, to help promote trade, tourism and investment-related activity with Ireland. I also look forward to meeting with members of the Irish community abroad, especially members of the Global Irish Network who have supported the Irish economic recovery.”

Enterprise Ireland Trade Missions

2013 will also see Enterprise Ireland embark on a record number of ministerial-led trade missions with an increased focus on high growth economies in Asia, the Middle East and South America.

Over 1,000 EI client companies will take part in 18 Ministerial-led trade missions and 87 international events during the year in major target markets in North America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. These trade missions and events are a central part of Enterprise Ireland’s drive to support Irish companies seeking to exploit new international business opportunities, target and secure new international customers and grow their sales. These activities are key to helping companies build their export markets, creating and sustaining much-needed jobs in Ireland.

The number of ministerial-led EI missions has more than doubled over the past two years, up from eight in 2011 and 16 in 2012.

Recently returned from an Enterprise Ireland trade mission of 40 companies to Texas, Minister Bruton said:

“Germany’s thriving Mittelstand sector of employment-intensive mid-sized companies provides a great example of what we are trying to do in Ireland through the Action Plan for Jobs. As I have said before, we must not only deepen the impact of the world-leading multinational companies we have here, we must also crucially support the development of a powerful engine of indigenous business. The Government’s programme of Ministerial-led trade and investment missions is a key part of this. Between Enterprise Ireland’s intensive programme of missions and the St Patrick’s Day “Promote Ireland” drive, there will be 37 Ministerial-led international missions this year promoting Irish exporting companies, which represents a major increase on previous years.

“Last week in Texas I saw first-hand yet again the progress that Irish companies are making in major overseas markets. Through continued strong implementation of the Action Plan for Jobs I am determined to support the growth of dynamic Irish companies to increase their exports and create the jobs we need”.

Marking the launch of the progamme, Kevin Sherry, Director of International Sales and Partnering at Enterprise Ireland said:

“Exports create and sustain jobs in Ireland. Exporting Irish companies support more than 300,000 jobs across every county in Ireland and are vital to growth and recovery in the Irish economy. The programme of events we have put in place is designed to build on export growth in markets where Irish companies are strong, and open doors for increased export opportunities and collaborative business ventures in new high-growth markets.  Ministerial-led trade missions are of enormous benefit in opening doors and creating high-level access to international buyers and decision-makers around the world. We are confident that further growth and business success will result from this programme of trade missions and international activities.”

In 2011 Enterprise Ireland companies achieved record exports of €15.2 billion and are expected to bring in even greater numbers for 2012.

The range of EI events planned for 2013 includes Inward Buyer airlifts, study visits, trade fairs, Embassy events and knowledge seminars.