The Export Trade Council (ETC) has met on three occasions since its inaugural meeting in September 2011. I have chaired each of these meetings. Members of the Council include Minister Bruton, Minister Varadkar, Minister Coveney and Minister of State Costello. Other relevant Departments are represented at senior official level, while the Chief Executive Officers of Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, SFI, Forfás and Tourism Ireland are also members. The ETC’s role is to strengthen cooperation and coordination across all Government Departments and State Agencies involved in the promotion and development of trade, tourism and investment, and to oversee the progressive implementation of the recommendations set out in the Government Trade Strategy, Trading and Investing in a Smart Economy.
Matters discussed at meetings reflect these goals. For example, at our most recent meeting, the Council considered progress made in 2012 in achieving the targets for export, tourism, FDI and jobs growth set out in Trading and Investing in a Smart Economy and discussed opportunities for Ireland presented by the ongoing negotiation of a number of Free Trade Agreements between the EU and third countries. The schedule of EI trade missions for 2013, which Minister Bruton and I approved, was also reviewed. Examples of other areas which have been considered in previous meetings are my Department’s Africa Strategy; visa issues and their impact of trade, tourism and investment in Ireland; and the issue of education and skills, which Minister Quinn briefed the Council on at its meeting of 20 September 2012.
I believe that the role of the Export Trade Council is key in ensuring a coherent and joined up approach to meeting our growth and jobs targets in the areas of trade, tourism and investment and in identifying areas in which Departments and agencies can work effectively together in promoting Ireland in overseas markets. Progress in meeting the targets outlined in Trading and Investing in a Smart Economy by 2015 remains on track.