Enterprise Ireland - the Government agency responsible for helping companies to export - has ambitious plans for the rest of 2016, necessitated partially by the vote by Britain to leave the EU.
The agency is launching an expanded international trade mission to help exporters win new business in new markets. Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland, said the agency had a contingency plan in place in the event of the Brexit vote going the way it did.
"While we were hoping the vote would go the other way, we had a five point plan in place in case it didn't. The key area is broadening our footprint internationally. In the first half of 2016, we had 10 ministerial led trade missions internationally. In the second half, we have 26 planned. In addition, we have a whole series of study visits and bringing inward buyers into Ireland," she said.
The Enterprise Ireland boss said the agency has 32 offices around the world and the focus now was in growing those markets and exploring new ones. "We're specifically working at a sectoral level, bringing groups of companies into markets they may not be in. In some cases, they are existing markets. The key focus is to reduce our overall dependence on UK market over a period of time."
Ms Sinnamon explained that in Enterprise Ireland's most recent results, the UK accounted for 37% of trade which they were hoping to bring closer to 30% in the next decade. Ten years ago, that figure was 45%.
In terms of the immediate effect of Brexit, Julie Sinnamon said the currency volatility had settled a bit in recent weeks. She said Enterprise Ireland had spent the early weeks supplying companies with information and helping them to deal with the fallout from Brexit. "We published webinars on opportunities and foreign exchange. We've been working one to one with companies heavily concentrated in the UK, getting them into other markets they wouldn't normally trade in." The presence of a minister on a trade mission had a huge impact in opening contacts with senior people they would not normally get into, she added.
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