The Government’s Trade Strategy, Trading and Investing in a Smart Economy, identifies high level targets for growth in exports, investment, tourism and jobs for the period to 2015 and feeds into the targets set in the Action Plan for Jobs. These targets have been identified by the relevant Departments and the State Agencies under their aegis. In overseas markets, my Department and our Embassy network work very closely with the State Agencies, including Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Bord Bia and Tourism Ireland. In the twenty seven priority overseas markets identified under the Strategy, Local Market Teams chaired by the Ambassador and including the State Agencies present in the particular market have been established to drive the common effort towards the achievement of the identified targets. Local Market Plans drawn up by these teams are reviewed by the Export Trade Council which I chair and which includes the relevant Ministers as well as the CEOs of the State Agencies and members from the private sector. The work of my Department and the Embassy network in engaging with key political and business figures in overseas markets, and on economic messaging designed to enhance confidence in our economic recovery, contributes directly to the achievement of the growth in domestic employment, as does the ongoing extensive support given by our Embassies to the trade missions organised by the State Agencies. This year our Embassies will support a total of eighteen Ministerial-led Enterprise Ireland trade missions involving Irish companies, as well as a range of other overseas Ministerial visits focussed on driving job growth at home through building our international trading and investment opportunities, in both mature and high growth markets. Each year the St. Patrick’s Day period provides a particular focus for our efforts to support job creation in the domestic economy and the Embassy network exploits to the full all the opportunities it provides for Ministerial led missions and other economic, business and cultural activity.
The Global Irish Network established by my Department is also contributing its ideas and support to the drive for jobs and I am pleased to note that at the most recent meeting of the Global Irish Economic Forum in Dublin Castle last weekend there was a very positive interaction at an Enterprise Ireland industry event between the Irish SME sector and the network.