Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (427)

Bernard Durkan


427. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the extent to which all options have been catered for in respect of the aftermath of Brexit with particular reference to access to foreign markets for Irish products; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38701/20]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Ireland's overall export performance over the last 10 years has been marked by year-on-year growth with total exports of goods and services reaching further record levels of €374 billion in 2019. While trade with the UK remains important, and is worth more than €1 billion per week, expanding the Irish export footprint in markets beyond the UK is a key priority. In that context, the Government is working together with Irish exporters to support them in becoming more innovative, competitive and market diversified.

The Irish exporting landscape has been strong and companies in Ireland have been succeeding in winning business worldwide for their products and services. Against the backdrop of Brexit uncertainty, Irish companies continued to grow their exports into key markets in 2019, including in Germany, France, the Netherlands and North America. The opening of new embassies, consulates and enterprise offices as part of the Global Ireland initiative will support our companies in competing and thriving in global markets.

Ministerial-led Trade Missions have supported the Government's major drive towards market diversification. The majority of trade missions in recent years have taken place to the Eurozone, North America and Asia Pacific, which are considered to represent the strongest growth opportunities for Irish companies. These Trade Missions focused on promoting the innovative capabilities and competitive offerings of Irish companies to international buyers in sectors including internationally traded services, fintech, high-tech construction, engineering, ICT, lifesciences and in the agri-food sector. Trade Missions will resume as soon as is practicable. In the meantime, promotion of our companies abroad will continue through the work of our embassies, consulates and state agencies on the ground internationally.

In addition to these global efforts, key to our success has been our commitment to trade liberalisation in order to open new markets for our indigenous sectors. The EU has successfully concluded a number of important trade agreements with trading partners and is in the process of negotiating or upgrading its agreements with many more. The existing suite of EU Free Trade Agreements and new trade deals will continue to be very important for Ireland. With a small domestic market, further expansion in other markets is essential to our continued economic growth and, in this regard, Ireland will continue to support the EU’s ambitious programme of negotiating new Free Trade Agreements, opening new markets for Irish companies and increasing export and investment opportunities.

Preparing for the end of the Brexit transition period is a whole of Government endeavour and continues to be a key priority across Government. The Government remains committed to doing everything we can to assist businesses and citizens in preparing for the end of the transition period, including by assisting Irish traders to diversify to access additional new markets outside of the UK.