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Our Trade Role

Our Trade Role

The advancement of Ireland’s prosperity by promoting our economic interests internationally is one of the five High Level Goals identified in the Department’s Statement of Strategy, 2017 – 2020. Under the goal of “Our Prosperity” the Department aims to achieve three main outcomes:

  • Effective contribution to whole of Government targets in support of job creation, exports, entrepreneurship, and tourism and education in Ireland, rooted in strong bilateral relationships abroad;
  • Strong understanding internationally of Ireland as a place to visit, work, invest, and study.
  • Strong contribution to raising Ireland’s visibility and promoting a positive reputation internationally.

The Government’s trade strategy Ireland Connected: Trading and Investing in a Dynamic World endorses a Team Ireland approach to markets, where the Embassy and State Agency overseas network work together to promote trade, tourism and investment. 

While the trade activities of Embassies and Consulates vary from market to market, core activities include:

  • Influencing and networking – Embassies and Consulates build long term networks of influence across the political, economic, cultural and academic spheres, which can be leveraged in support of Irish business and economic objectives.  
  • Information and knowledge – the Embassy network provides local market intelligence and guidance to state agencies and Irish companies, in addition to briefing and practical advice on business culture, laws and regulations.  As part of economic diplomacy it also communicates critical economic messaging on Ireland to key influencers locally, and reports to HQ on local economic developments.
  • Visibility and awareness – the Embassy network undertakes vital work in raising Ireland’s visibility and communicating a positive message of Ireland as a great place to work, study, live, visit and invest in.
  • Supporting and signposting --- colleagues around the Embassy network provide a wide range of business and other supports to agencies and Irish companies active in market as required.  These include the resolution of market access issues, brokering introductions to local market contacts, provision of certification and other consular services, and highlighting opportunities and challenges posed by new or existing EU Free Trade Agreements with third counties.
  • Co-ordination – the Embassy network leads the activities of the Local Market Team and advances Team Ireland cooperation in market to deliver effective St Patrick’s Day and other high-level Ministerial visits programmes, and to support trade missions that promote trade, tourism, investment and wider government priorities in host countries.

Ireland’s trade strategy

The Government’s trade strategy, Ireland Connected: Trading and Investing in a Dynamic World was launched on 8 March 2017 and is the result of close collaboration between the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. It is the successor strategy to Trading and Investing in a Smart Economy, which covered the period 2010 to 2015.

The strategy sets ambitious targets for Ireland’s exports, foreign direct investment, tourism and international education with a focus on intensifying activities in markets where Ireland already has a strong trading relationship, and on diversifying to others. The objective is to build resilience in our enterprise base, to position Ireland for further growth and to create sustainable jobs and a higher standard of living for Irish citizens.

Key outputs to date include:

  • 19,332 new jobs created by EI client companies in 2017 (10,309 net jobs).
  • 19,851 jobs created by IDA client companies in 2017 across a range of sectors, with every region of Ireland posting net gains in jobs. 
  • Overseas tourism contributed over €4.8 billion (+6.5%) to the Irish economy in 2017, driven by almost 9 million overseas visitors (+3.5%). 
  • The value of Irish food and drink exports increased by 13% in 2017, to €12.6bn – representing growth of almost 60% since 2010.

Export Trade Council

The Export Trade Council (ETC) was established in 2011 to strengthen cooperation and coordination across all Government Departments and State agencies involved in the promotion and development of trade, tourism and investment, and the private sector. The Council is chaired by the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, and its membership includes the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation; the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine; the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport; and the Minister for Education and Skills.

Other relevant Departments are represented at senior official level, while the CEOs of IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Bord Bia, Science Foundation Ireland, and Tourism Ireland are also members. The private sector is represented on the Council by IBEC and the Irish Exporters Association, as well as by a number of business people with a track record in relevant sectors.

The ETC generally meets at plenary level twice a year. The agenda and minutes of the most recent meeting can be found here.

Joint Economic Commissions

Ireland has separate Joint Economic Commissions with China, the Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia and Russia. Meetings are facilitated by the Department aim to increase trade and investment and to develop economic, business, scientific and technological co-operation. They are usually held every two years.

Trade missions

Ministerial-led trade missions and other high-level visits are a very valuable way of developing new and existing markers overseas for Irish companies. The Department and its Mission network works closely with other Government Departments and State Agencies to deliver an annual programme of high quality trade missions to markets of strategic importance. During 2017 the Mission network supported over 80 Ministerial-led trade missions and marketing trips organised by our State Agencies. Countries visited included the U.K, France, Germany, the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Australia, China, India, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.