Enterprise Ireland's first in-person trade mission since the onset of the Covid pandemic starts today in London, before moving on to Paris and Berlin.
The three day mission is being led by Tánaiste and Minster for Enterprise Leo Varadkar.
It is also the first physical trade mission since the new post-Brexit trade agreement between the UK and the EU.
The UK is the biggest single country market for Enterprise Ireland client firms, accounting for 29% of their export sales, and Irish companies employ about 125,000 people in the UK.
The Tánaiste said starting the mission in London showed the importance of the British market, our continued close cooperation and maintaining the strongest business ties.
He is also meeting the British cabinet office minster Michael Gove this morning – the latest in a series of informal meetings between senior Irish and British politicians over the past few days, focused on Brexit.
The UK, France and Germany combined represented 39% of total Enterprise Ireland client exports in 2020, with over 2,300 Enterprise Ireland client companies exporting to these three markets.
Over the last 12 months, 95 Enterprise Ireland client companies have set up a new presences on the ground in the UK, French and German markets.
It included a broad range of sectors including digital technology, life sciences, construction, fintech, energy and transport.
67 Enterprise Ireland supported companies have established a new presence in the UK market in the last 18 months.
"Ireland and Britain will always have a close relationship. Our two countries are interlinked in myriad different ways and we will be looking to strengthen those ties as we emerge from the pandemic and face into future challenges, such as climate change and digitalisation," Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said ahead of the trade mission.
"The UK and the euro zone are strategically important markets for Irish exporters, with new business opportunities emerging for Irish companies. Combined, the UK and euro zone represented 52% of total client exports in 2020, with exports of €13.35 billion," Leo Clancy, Enterprise Ireland's chief executive said.
Enterprise Ireland chief executive Leo Clancy told Morning Ireland that the three-day mission will be an opportunity for 35 Irish companies to showcase their products in the UK, France and Germany.
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Mr Clancy said it was really important that we get back out into the market as international travel resumes.
Mr Clancy said the UK remains the fifth largest market in the world and presents huge opportunities for client companies, who are looking to continue to grow in the UK post-Brexit.
He said the UK and euro zone together represent 52% of client exports but that the UK remains the single biggest market, with €7.5 billion worth of exports to the UK in 2020.
"We are certainly becoming more diversified but the UK remains absolutely critical for Irish companies," he stated.
Mr Clancy said Irish companies are ready to sell and while business models have become more digital and service-oriented, there is an opportunity in the short-term to focus harder at opportunities in markets near to Ireland.