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UK and Ireland have shared history and shared future of economic and trade development

Added 13-Jun-2011

Addressing the 42nd plenary of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly in Cork this morning, the CEO of Enterprise Ireland, Frank Ryan, said that Ireland the United Kingdom have both a shared history and a shared future in terms of economic development and exports. Mr Ryan said: The close links between Ireland and the UK are many and varied. Our ties run deep. Right at the heart of this complex relationship are trading and economic links, where the relationship between the Irish and UK economies has never been stronger.

A snap shot in time shows just how strong these trading links are. The UK is Ireland's main trading partner with 42% of our total exports. It is the most important market for the vast majority of Irish small to medium sized businesses. For the food and drinks sector, it is Ireland's largest market, representing €3.4bn in 2010, while the UK is also Ireland's biggest tourism market with close to 2.7m UK visitors in 2010.

For British businesses, Ireland is the 5th largest export market, and Britain does more business with Ireland than it does with Brazil, Russia, India and China - combined. In terms of in-country investment, the story is similar. Ireland was the 3rd largest European investor in the UK in 2010, while the UK is likewise the third largest investor in Ireland.

As the state agency responsible for the development and internationalisation of Irish industry, our job at Enterprise Ireland is to build on these links. I strongly believe that this is to our mutual benefit.

The past few years have been very challenging. International trade is fundamental to our plans for economic recovery. Fortunately, in that regard Ireland is already performing strongly. Economic recovery in international markets is fuelling increased demand for Irish products and services and Irish exports are at an all time high.

The country has shown continuous export growth for 22 months in a row. This means that we have the 2nd best export growth in the EU, with only
Germany performing better than Ireland in this regard.

Our annual survey of clients in 2010 shows that Ireland's indigenous exports reached approximately €13.85 billion for 2010. This means that Irish exporting companies regained 70% of the exports that had been lost since the dawn of the global recession in 2008.

I am confident that, given the indicators at the present time, by the end of 2011, our exports will be higher than they were pre-recession.

The UK is our most important trading partner and now more than ever our economic relationship is one we must invest in and nurture. Working together offers tremendous opportunity for both economies, ensuring prosperity for the future.

Ireland is a nation of global reach in spite of our small size. Ireland is the world's largest exporter of infant formula in the world, the largest net exporter of pharmaceuticals, and the 5th largest exporter of beef. And in financial services, 1.7 trillion Euro of funds are administered from Ireland.

The reach of Irish innovation is now truly a global phenomenon. When you travel to the United States, you will have your eyes and finger prints scanned by US Immigration. The technology that is used there comes from an Irish company - Daon. This technology is also used in airports in Australia and in Narita Airport in Japan.

If you were to undergo a medical procedure anywhere in the world, in which a stent is implanted in your body, there is an 80% probability that Irish technology from Creganna-Tactx Medical will be used to insert it.

Ireland's Realex Payments provides e-commerce services to major corporations worldwide and over the past 12 months, Realex processed €9bn of payments all over the world.

What this says is that across the world international buyers regard Ireland as a source of sophisticated products and services. Irish companies can likewise continue to deliver real benefit and competitive advantage for UK business.

The preparations for the London 2012 Olympics are a case in point, where Irish companies have secured over €200m in contracts. The 2012 Games project is a huge undertaking, requiring the highest levels of innovation, quality and competitiveness throughout the supply chain. Irish companies across sectors including construction, electronics, software, architecture and renewable energy have won significant business and are now very much part of the successful delivery of the games.

The relationship spreads right across the UK markets. Irish companies are active in Scotland (John Paul Construction building Dual Carriageways), the Isle of Man where Valentia Technologies have deployed pre-emergency care software in IOM Ambulances, S3 and partners providing tele-health monitoring services to the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland.

Ireland has built a modern, dynamic economy with a sophisticated and diverse industrial landscape. Our trading and economic relationship with the UK can continue to offer more and more benefits on both sides of that relationship.

More Irish companies are engaging in research and development than ever before and Irish companies are selling innovative, advanced products and services all over the world.

I have said before that I believe that Ireland's best days lie ahead of us and not behind us and that Ireland can be the comeback economy of Europe.

Now is the time to consolidate relationships, build alliances, partner in new ventures and exploit opportunities for our mutual benefit. The UK is a close and trusted partner. Working together offers tremendous opportunity for both economies, ensuring prosperity for the future. Working together, surely, our best days lie ahead.


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