Firms to join Gulf trade mission

Around 30 firms from the beleaguered construction sector will join a major Government trade mission to the Gulf this week to boost business links.

The expedition will be led by Enterprise Minister Mary Coughlan and also includes representatives from the food, healthcare and education industries.

The trip will take in Qatar – a first for an Irish trade mission – as well as Saudi Arabia.

Tanaiste Ms Coughlan said there was significant potential to increase trade in the region.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Qatar are two of the Gulf States that are best equipped to drive forward their rapid rate of planned expansion, while economic activities slow in other world markets,” she said.

“This combined with Ireland’s industrial and technical strengths and the active interest of Irish companies in doing business in the region means there is substantial potential for a significant further upswing in trade partnership.”

Some 64 companies will be represented on the trade mission, with around a half of those from the construction sector.

Trade between Ireland and Saudi Arabia jumped massively in recent years, with exports to the Kingdom last year worth more than €400m.

More than 120 Irish firms are involved in work with the country.

Irish exports to Qatar were worth €24m last year- up 9% on 2007.

Frank Ryan, Enterprise Ireland chief, said Irish businesses were in a strong position to contribute to the region’s strong economic growth.

“Opportunity sectors include healthcare, education, utilities, civil construction, water and environmental, telecoms, banking and insurance, education, oil, gas and construction.”

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