Written Answers. - Industrial Development.

Andrew Boylan

Question:

55 Mr. Boylan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the way in which she will maximise business opportunities for indigenous enterprises North and South on an all-island basis. [7000/01]

The facilitation, promotion and expansion of trade and business co-operation for indigenous enterprises North and South on an all-island basis are core functions of one of the Implementation Bodies, that is, the Trade and Business Development Body, now formally known as InterTradeIreland – ITI – established under the Good Friday Agreement. Responsibility at ministerial level for ITI is shared by the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in the North and me.

In implementing these functions ITI focuses its efforts on activities that seek to develop capability and competitiveness in the two economies on the island of Ireland and in the businesses, particularly those in the indigenous sector that drive those economies. Such activities are formulated taking account of the specific tasks assigned on a North-South basis to ITI under the British-Irish Agreement Act, 1999.

Specific projects or actions undertaken to date or currently in progress by ITI include the following: the organisation of a highly successful road-show last year in Dublin, Belfast, Limerick and Derry highlighting the importance of market information and networking between enterprises North and South; the organisation of an agency forum which brought together, for the first time last year, the key economic development agencies, North and South, to liaise on core strategic issues; on-going research, in conjunction with other agencies, funding organisations, third level institutions, etc., to maximise the level and quality of cross-Border trade and to identify ways of overcoming obstacles to such trade; the on-going development of an all-island sub-supply and public procurement strategy aimed at linking indigenous suppliers North and South with multi-national and public sector companies; the preparation of proposals for the development of a North-South equity investment programme; the formulation of two graduate placement schemes in regard to trade-market development and business-innovation development which will be activated at an early date; the development of an e-commerce strategy to promote connectivity and usage among SMEs North and South; on-going research on the potential for co-operation North and South between SMEs and higher education institutions; on-going steps to ensure a major and co-ordinated approach island-wide to innovation in SMEs through strategy development and pilot initiatives; and the on-going development, in conjunction with IBEC-CBI, of a report and recommendations on transport and logistics island-wide.

Very shortly ITI will publish a research document entitled "Ireland – A £20 Billion Retail Market" which, in effect, will be a compendium of eight sectoral reports which it produced last year. In addition, ITI is ever active in promoting and facilitating joint meetings between trade and business associations North and South.

During 2001 ITI will conduct studies on issues that might improve the business environment for, and the general competitiveness of, enterprises North and South in the areas of skills availability, IT, e-commerce and telecommunications. Recommendations emerging from these studies will be assessed by the NSMC. My Department, moreover, will maintain contact with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in the North with respect to possible further work on competitiveness-related issues that might be undertaken collaboratively between us.
Enterprise Ireland also has a strong focus in their operations on the promotion of North-South business opportunities for the indigenous sector. In this connection they engage in active co-operation with ITI and with a range of other agencies North and South. Their programmes and strategies are designed to achieve linkages between the research and development communities on both sides of the Border, to identify new trade opportunities in the North for their client companies, and to encourage Dublin-based companies with expansion proposals to locate new projects in Border counties.