There is significant potential to boost trade Irish-South African trade in the coming years, according to the body focused on business links between the two countries.

Business Ireland South Africa is holding a trade mission in Ireland this weekend, coinciding with rugby's Autumn Nations Cup match that takes place in Dublin tomorrow.

In 2020 Irish exports to South Africa were close to €400m, while imports were worth more than €100m.

South African firms sold wine and food to Ireland, while it also has growing technology and life sciences sectors.

"There's very strong growing links between Ireland and South Africa and a lot of it is driven through sport and tourism," said Frank Gormley, chairman of Business Ireland South Africa. "Underneath that there's also a growing trade opportunity."

Mr Gormley believes that businesses in Ireland, and Europe in general, could use South Africa as a focal point for their growth - as they look for ways of leveraging their expertise and economic maturity.

"South Africa is a bit like Ireland 50 years ago," he said. "Ireland 50 years ago was lacking in entrepreneurship and lacking in ideas for new businesses and technology, and all of those things. We've adopted the technology age.

"South Africa is now ready for that step - it's only come through it's freedom years and it's now ready to start growing."

He said Ireland was the "perfect" country to help in that, as there was an empathy here that understands struggle, and the need to develop a new economy.

"Ireland is no mature now, it's ready to do links with countries that need that input," he said.

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"In the services area, where we're very strong, in technology, in research, in food, in education - all those service areas, there's a massive requirement in South Africa," he said.

South Africa also has a similar time zone, with good infrastructure in many areas.

This, he said, meant it offered great potential for those ultimately looking to expand across the continent.