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Minister Costello leads Enterprise Ireland Trade Mission to South Africa

Trade, Press Releases, Africa, 2012

Major drive for continued growth in Irish exports to South Africa

The Minister for Trade and Development, Joe Costello T.D., is leading an Enterprise Ireland Trade Mission to South Africa this week involving 35 Irish companies. The Trade Mission is aimed at driving further expansion of Irish companies’ exports to this market and building on the strong growth achieved last year.  Enterprise Ireland client companies increased their sales in South Africa by 29% to over €100m in 2011, and a similar level of growth is expected in 2012.

Year on year, Irish companies are expanding their presence in South Africa, the economic hub and regional powerhouse for Sub-Saharan Africa.  South Africa is the gateway for access to this market of over 900 million people.  This Trade Mission is a vital element of the Government’s work to increase exports in line with its Trade Strategy. It is also key to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Africa Strategy, which aims to further develop trade links and increase Irish exports to South Africa and to the wider Sub-Saharan region. 

In February of this year, Enterprise Ireland opened a new office in Johannesburg which acts as a hub for supporting Irish companies in growing their trade relationships and export sales in South Africa and across the Sub-Saharan region.  Over 180 Enterprise Ireland client companies are now exporting to South Africa, while 30 Irish companies have a presence on the ground employing over 13,000 locally.  

The Trade Mission, which is primarily focussed on the ICT, international education and financial services sectors, is being organised by Enterprise Ireland in close cooperation with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Embassy of Ireland in Pretoria.  Speaking before his departure Minister Costello said: 

“Trade Missions to key growth markets such as South Africa, which is identified as a priority market under the Government’s Trade Strategy, are of critical importance in building on existing links and opening new doors for increased exports and collaborative business ventures.  They are our way of making sure that Irish companies are supported in every way to grow, increase their exports and, open new markets.   Growth in trade and investment resulting from Trade Missions supports jobs in Ireland and is an important part of the Government’s Trade Strategy and Action Plan for Jobs.

The continuing rise in indigenous export figures to the South African market is extremely encouraging for Irish business, showing once again how Irish companies are continuing to win new export business in markets right across the globe. It is my firm expectation that this Trade Mission will build on the expanding trade relationship with South Africa, and the rest of Sub Saharan Africa, and help to realise the huge potential for further trade between the two countries to the benefit of Irish business in particular. Both the Embassy of Ireland in South Africa and Enterprise Ireland stand ready to assist Irish companies in this regard.

Under the Africa Strategy, we are placing an enhanced emphasis on supporting improved business and enterprise environments in our partner countries and we are working through the Embassy network to expand two-way trade and investment between Ireland and African countries. Following on from my visit to South Africa I will travel to Ghana and Nigeria on trade related visits”.

Enterprise Ireland’s Head of International Sales and Partnering, Kevin Sherry, who is accompanying Minister Costello on the trip, said: 

“This Trade Mission is a very timely and exciting opportunity for Irish companies seeking to expand their business in South Africa and the wider Sub-Saharan region.  This market is as yet relatively untapped and offers enormous potential for ambitious Irish companies to establish themselves and build exports to this growing market.

The continuing growth in Irish exports into South Africa shows clearly that there are significant opportunities for increased trade and partnerships between Irish and South African companies.  The market growth is in sectors where Enterprise Ireland’s client companies are particularly strong performers, including telecommunications, eLearning, financial services technology and life sciences.  We are confident that further growth and business successes will result from this Trade Mission and from the significant effort currently being put into the market by Irish companies.”

Minister Costello’s schedule during the visit includes a series of meetings in Johannesburg and Cape Town with Irish companies and their South African partners and customers, and a series of events promoting the capabilities and strengths of Irish companies in key sectors.