Irish exporters urged to look to Africa

“African markets have a greater potential for Irish exporters over the next decade than China,” said Mr. Bryan Delaney, Chairman of the Irish Exporters Association’s Africa Business Forum, who was announcing details of the Association’s new strategic initiative Doing Business in Africa – the Opportunities for Irish Businesses.

Speaking at the South African Trade and Investment Fair in Dublin’s City Hall, Mr. Delaney said that Irish exports of goods and services to Africa reached £2.3 billion last year, which represents an increase of some 200% in the three years since 2009. He noted that much of this growth has been led by the growth in sub-Saharan Africa and particularly with South Africa. According to Mr. Delaney the Irish Exporters Association is confident that continued rapid trade growth can be achieved. “Growth of this magnitude can be achieved if we can build on the extensive goodwill towards Ireland amongst all African states utilising our strong embassy structure across Africa for trade promotional purposes and ensuring that structures are put in place to enable two-way trade to develop,” said Mr. Delaney. He added that the days of one-way trade have long gone and that there is a strong realisation between governments and businesses and that joint investments and strategic partnerships are the best way to develop trade.

Mr. Delaney said: “Exports from Ireland to Africa have the realistic potential to reach £20 billion by the end of the decade which is much greater than the growth figures forecast for China. To achieve this high export growth target political dialogue and support will be essential across the many countries that make up the continent of Africa.” He noted that Ireland has a very enviable reputation across Africa arising from its educational and aid support delivered for many decades. He warned, however, that competing countries are now eating our trade breakfast as the African continent, according to the IMF, is now ranked as the fastest growing region globally.

Mr. Delaney took the opportunity to launch IEA’s Doing Business in Africa – the Opportunities for Irish Businesses Programme for 2013, which is being supported by Barclays Bank Ireland and the Channel IT Group.

Mr. Delaney stated: “We will work with our African partners to build strong institutions, to remove constraints to trade and investment, to expand opportunities for African countries to effectively access each other’s markets and global markets, to embrace sound economic governance and to diversify their economies beyond a narrow reliance on natural resources, and – most importantly – create opportunities for Africa’s people to prosper. As we support these efforts, we will encourage Irish companies to seize trade and investment opportunities in Africa so that their skills, capital and technology will further support the region’s economic expansion while helping to create jobs in Ireland.”

Barclays Bank Ireland has provided support to a number of Irish businesses doing business in Africa through its global banking network and through its African network, which has operations in countries such as South Africa, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Seychelles, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Benette Van Dyk, Director of Trade Finance, Barclays Bank Ireland says: 
“Africa presents Irish businesses with a significant opportunity to expand their reach and grow their trade, as evidenced by the substantial increase that we have seen in the level of exports from Ireland to Africa over the past few years. Furthermore, research carried out by Barclays Bank Ireland last year showed that Irish businesses see Africa as a growing opportunity, particularly in the areas of agriculture, energy & utilities, construction and tourism. Barclays has more than 50,000 employees on the ground in Africa and understands the challenges which businesses face when trying to enter the African market, but also the opportunities that are available to those who tap into it. At Barclays Bank Ireland, we provide support and local trading expertise to Irish businesses operating in Africa including the Irish Dairy Board which benefits from our global banking network and on the ground support, helping them to achieve their international objectives and ambitions with a special emphasis on Africa. This IEA strategy will enhance the focus on opportunities that Irish businesses have in Africa, and we believe it will help a number of new businesses gain footfall in this very sizeable market.”