Wales and Ireland
Ireland is one of Wales’ most important international trading partners. Thanks to its booming economy, proximity to the UK, similar legal system and familiar business culture, it’s at the top of the list for many businesses seeking new international opportunities.
With the support of the Welsh Government, a delegation of seven firms from Wales will travel to Dublin in February 2020. They represent Welsh flair and innovation across a range of different industries, from video production and 3D visualisation systems to intellectual property research and office supplies.
While in the Irish capital, the delegation will attend a market briefing session and a business reception at the British Embassy. The remainder of their schedule will be dedicated to meetings with new and existing business contacts from the Republic of Ireland. These sessions will provide the opportunity to network, build on established links and discuss potential export opportunities.
Both nations draw significant benefit from their close economic links. Ireland is Wales’ fourth-largest export market, and received goods and services to the value of more than £1.5billion in 2018 – a 50% increase on the previous year.
Ireland has also been a vital source of inward investment in Wales. There are an estimated 80 Irish businesses with a base in the country, employing just short of 5,000 people. What’s more, Wales receives more visits from Ireland than from any other non-UK country. There were 206,000 such visits in 2017, up from 169,000 in 2016 and 129,000 in 2015. This represents growth of around 60% over the period.
Academic links between Wales and Ireland remain strong. According to the latest HESA figures, there were 430 Irish students enrolled at Wales’ eight universities in the 2017/18 academic year. There were 225 Irish staff employed in the higher-education sector in the same year. Research collaborations between Irish and Welsh universities over the past decade have included the Celtic Advanced Life Science Innovation Project (CALIN) and the Ireland-Wales Research Network – a partnership between University College Cork and Cardiff and Aberystwyth Universities with the aim of developing a deeper awareness of the overlapping histories of Wales and Ireland.
The Welsh Government has maintained a presence in the Irish capital since 2012, with a full-time representative based in the British Embassy in Dublin. In a measure of the reciprocal importance of trade and cultural links between the two countries, the Irish Government last year reopened its consulate in Cardiff – providing a permanent base in Wales for the first time since 2009.
The continuing expansion of Ireland’s economy makes it an attractive target market for both first-time and experienced exporters. In its autumn 2019 economic forecast, the European Commission predicted the nation’s GDP would grow by 5.6% over the year – up from 4% in its previous forecast, and the highest of any EU member state. Significant growth is expected across a range of sectors, including construction, life sciences, medical devices and pharmaceuticals.
The seven companies taking part in the trade mission to Dublin are debt collection agency CCI Credit Management; workplace supplies company CCS McLays; 3D visualisation specialists Futurium; Knew Productions, which develops video productions for businesses; intellectual property research company Patent Seekers; PDR, a design consultancy and applied research centre; and RA & CE Platt, which supplies animal bedding for the agricultural industry.