Brexit to intensify Irish trade with GCC region - deputy PM

Frances Fitzgerald says aviation sector will play central role in Irish economic ties with UAE
Brexit to intensify Irish trade with GCC region - deputy PM
Irish deputy PM Frances Fitzgerald. (ARTUR WIDAK/AFP/Getty Images)
By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Mon 13 Nov 2017 02:19 PM

The aviation sector plays a “very central” role in Ireland’s strategy to increase exports to the UAE from 1.4 billion euros ($1.6 billion) to 2 billion euros ($2.33 billion) by 2020, according to Irish Deputy Prime Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

“It’s all about developing partnerships in the region,” Fitzgerald said on the sidelines of the Dubai Airshow. “Clearly this is a very developed sector [for the UAE], as indeed it is for us.”

Fitzgerald’s comments came during a visit to Irish companies participating in the Dubai Airshow under the umbrella of Enterprise Ireland.

A number of Irish companies are announcing deals at the Airshow, including Botany Weaving, a Dublin-based manufacturer of aviation fabrics and carpets that secured a multi-million dollar deal with a UAE airline to supply interior textiles, and TIC, a technology company that signed a contract with a UAE airport to implement software that allows for automated communication with passengers through social media.

“Our companies have developed expertise in various sectors of aviation, whether its in maintenance, supply of interiors, or technology,” Fitzgerald added. “We focus very much in Ireland on innovation and technology in the aviation area.”

Additionally, Fitzgerald said that Brexit - which will leave Ireland as the only English-speaking  nation in the European Union - will “intensify” economic ties with the UAE and the rest of region.

“We think [that as a result of Brexit] there is a lot of opportunity for companies...in this region to invest in Ireland, but also for our exporting companies to focus on the region,” she said. “We are very much into diversification as a result [of Brexit].”

Additionally, Fitzgerald added that the growth of Irish food and dairy products into the region will grow significantly in the near-future, following a 25 percent increase in food exports from Ireland to the UAE over the last three years. At the moment, Fitzgerald noted, Ireland has a dependence on the UK market in the food sector.

“We’ve a lot to offer this region in terms of the innovation and research that’s going on with dairy in Ireland,” she said.

Julie Sinnamon, the CEO of Enterprise Ireland, added that she believes the UAE and the Gulf is a market in which there are “discerning customers who actually will pay the premium for grass-based food.”

“We’re the only country in the world with complete traceability of every singe product,” she said. “There’s a real strong focus on quality in the Irish food market, and a market like the Gulf recognises that.”

Following her visit to the UAE, Fitzgerald will travel to Oman, where she said that discussions will focus heavily on fintech, technology, and potential investments in scientific research and specialist advanced manufacturing centres.

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