The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment will lead an Enterprise Ireland trade mission to the UK, France and Germany from next Monday.

This marks the first in-person trade mission undertaken by Enterprise Ireland after the EU-UK Trade Agreement and since the start of Covid-19.

The three-day trade mission will visit London, Paris and Berlin and aims to support the accelerated export-led recovery of Irish businesses in the UK and euro zone - Ireland's closest markets.

The UK, France and Germany combined represent 39% of total Enterprise Ireland client exports in 2020, with over 2,300 Enterprise Ireland client companies exporting to these three markets.

Enterprise Ireland noted that over the last year 95 companies have set up a new presence on the ground in the UK, French and German markets. These companies represent a wide range of sectors including digital technology, life sciences, construction, fintech, energy and transport.

In the UK, next week's trade mission will highlight the strength of the long-standing business relationship between Ireland and the UK.

In France, meetings will take place with Réseau de Transport d'Electricité and EirGrid, partners in the Celtic Interconnector project.

They will also meet representatives from Le Grand Paris project, the largest transport and infrastructure project in Europe focused on mobility, sustainability and urban development in the Ile de France region.

In Germany, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar will formally launch Enterprise Ireland's fourth "Enter the Euro zone" programme, in partnership with Berlin-based European School of Management and Technology (ESMT).

Mr Varadkar said that although not behind us, we must look to life after the pandemic and how we can rebuild, adding that like the previous economic crisis, trade will be crucial in helping the country recover and reach full employment.

"The Government has invested to help businesses overcome the incredible challenges of the last 18 months, with Brexit and Covid-19, so that they can emerge from this difficult period, resilient and ready for future success," the Tánaiste said.

"This trip will be about strengthening opportunities for Irish SMEs exporting to the U.K., France and Germany, looking at how we can build on what is already there and diversify into new markets. It will also be about how we can encourage investors to seek out Ireland as a location for further FDI, given all we have to offer," he added.

Leo Clancy, CEO of Enterprise Ireland, said that despite the challenges of Covid-19 and Brexit, Enterprise Ireland client exports remained steady in 2020, achieving exports of €25.48 billion.

"Our ambition for 2021 is to support the delivery of an export-led recovery, returning export growth to pre-pandemic levels," Mr Clancy said.

"The UK and the euro zone are strategically important markets for Irish exporters, with new business opportunities emerging for Irish companies," the Enterprise Ireland boss said.

The UK and euro zone represented 52% of total client exports in 2020, with exports of €13.35 billion.

"Enterprise Ireland's ten offices across the UK and euro zone markets are there to support Irish companies as they expand their reach into these markets and accelerate an export-led recovery for Irish business," Mr Clancy added.