Advancing Ireland’s trade and investment interests is an important aspect of Ireland’s foreign policy. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, through its network of twelve missions across Africa, works to advance Ireland’s prosperity and to support Irish companies seeking to expand into African markets, in close cooperation with State Agencies and other Government Departments, in line with the priorities set out in ‘Ireland Connected: Trading and Investing in a Dynamic World’.
Since the start of this decade, two-way trade in goods and services between Ireland and Africa increased by €1 billion to €4.4 billion. Irish exports in this period increased by 39%, from €2.36 billion in 2010 to €3.28 billion in 2017.
Africa represents a market of 1.2 billion people, with the youngest and fastest-growing population in the world, and is home to some of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Africa offers new and growing markets to Irish business and opportunities for market diversification. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement came into effect this year and paves the way for increased trade and economic growth in Africa.
In 2018, ‘Global Ireland: Ireland’s Global Footprint to 2025’, recognised the growing economic potential of Africa. A decision has been take to open an Embassy in Morocco to strengthen Ireland’s presence in an important region close to Europe’s borders. The EU is currently negotiating a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with Morocco, which will open up further potential for increased bilateral trade. Global Ireland also committed to opening new Embassies in Francophone West Africa, a region that is home to some of the fastest-growing economies in the world, including markets of interest to Irish food exporters.
The sixth Africa Ireland Economic Forum in Dublin in October 2018 brought together business people and thought leaders from across Africa and Ireland, providing an important opportunity for African and Irish businesses to identify areas for mutually beneficial trade. My Department has built on this momentum in 2019, including by hosting a Uganda-Ireland Trade, Tourism and Investment Forum in September; by hosting a panel discussion on Ireland-Africa trade with the participation of the Executive Director of the International Trade Centre, Ms. Arancha González; and by engaging with Irish-African business networks in Ireland and across the continent.
This week, the Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, Heather Humphreys T.D., is leading a trade mission with over 40 Irish companies to South Africa and Kenya, which have been identified as strategic markets in southern and eastern Africa respectively. The mission is focused on highlighting Ireland’s strengths in key growth sectors, including digital technologies, fintech, life sciences, pharmaceutical, medical devices, agri-tech, telecommunications and education. The trade mission is coordinated by Enterprise Ireland with the active support of our Embassies in Pretoria and Nairobi.
My Department will continue its work to increase trade and investment links with the African continent, including through Ireland’s membership of the EU and the ambitious Africa-EU Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs.