Foster encourages local firms to seize export opportunities

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster is encouraging experienced exporters, and those looking at exporting for the first time, to investigate business opportunities in new markets.

The Minister was speaking after a meeting with Invest Northern Ireland Chief Executive Alastair Hamilton where export trends and access to trade development support for local businesses were discussed.

Arlene Foster said: “Exporting is a prerequisite to business growth and it is well recognised that with a very small domestic market, those companies which only trade locally will find their growth restricted. As the global economic recovery continues, it is essential that companies look to new export markets to support growth.

“Recent figures published by Northern Bank suggest that Northern Ireland could see a growth in exports of around 7% in 2012. Although this is on par with the rest of the UK, we need to ensure our companies continue to access all the support and advice they need to exceed that projection and maximise the economic return.”

In Northern Ireland many companies explore exporting for the first time in the Great Britain and Republic of Ireland markets, mainly as they are geographically convenient. In particular, the RoI market has been attractive to many first time exporters because of its familiarity, ease of access and the exchange rate. Europe, the US and the Middle East are also popular markets.

The Minister continued: “There are many new rapidly growing markets which offer significant opportunities to Northern Ireland businesses across a range of industry sectors, from life sciences and professional services, to construction and manufacturing. These countries include Brazil, Russia, India and China which have growth rates predicted at 4%, 5%, 8% and 10% respectively this year, far outstripping growth rates in established economies.

“Correct market selection is fundamental for success so companies need to select the right markets for their business. Invest NI continually reviews markets so that those relevant to local company expertise are highlighted and its in-market support remains relevant.

This is why in addition to its already extensive range of trade support, Invest NI is hosting a series of free seminars this week which will provide local companies with direct access to trade experts based in new as well as key established export markets. I would urge companies to make use of these seminars as now is the time for local firms to seize the export opportunities on offer and secure their future.”