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Last Updated:[02-11-2010 07:45:26 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Ireland Steers towards Middle East to Expand Economic Ambit

tradenews According to sources, a week-long trip by a high profile Irish trade delegation to Saudi Arabia and the UAE is expected to expand proximity to the Middle East in bilateral trade to politics. The delegation, led by Batt O'Keeffe, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation is joined by representatives of 45 Irish firms.

For the first time the trade minister has included representatives from the banking sector in his trip to expose and equip the banks to real market dynamics which would eventually help to tailor their products to the needs of country’s exports to the region. The Irish government is understood to have taken this decision since two major banks have now been nationalised as the fall out of global meltdown, at a bail-out of about €50bn.

The trade minister acknowledged his recent presence in Brazil, Russia and now the Middle East was a concerted effort by the Irish government to usher in export-led growth by generating multiple jobs back home. The latest trip is also aimed at providing indigenous Irish firms in the Gulf to further their businesses.

Speaking before he left for the Middle East, O'Keeffe described the trade mission as “an important opportunity to promote Irish firms and generate new business opportunities and jobs here at home. The Government’s overriding policy priority is the protection and creation of jobs.”

The Irish companies on the trip cover a series of sectors, including construction, engineering, information communications technology, education, finance and consulting. Irish exports to Saudi Arabia and the UAE in 2009 were €400mn and €276mn respectively.

Saudi Arabia is Ireland’s largest export market in the Middle Eastern region. Over 70 Irish firms do business in Saudi Arabia and 20 have a full-time market presence in the country. Likewise, a number of Irish firms are active in the UAE and 55 have a direct presence in the market. The Irish government has led successful Irish trade missions to the Gulf region each year since 1986.

By Jose Roy

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