24/01/2012

Invest NI Announces Major Drive To Boost Exports

Chief Executive of Invest Northern Ireland Alastair Hamilton has said that Northern Irish companies will have greater opportunities than ever before to develop export business during 2012/13.

Mr Hamilton announced details of a major export drive by Invest NI for local companies, both large and small, and in virtually every business sector, during a week-long trade mission, from January 20-25, to Saudi Arabia involving 25 local firms, which also saw the opening of an Invest NI Trade Office in Jeddah.

The new office, which is being headed by an experienced business development professional, Wissam Saadi, is already working with several Northern Ireland companies keen to develop business in the Kingdom especially the Jeddah area, the main commercial centre and largest seaport.

Mr Hamilton said: "Our Market Visits Programme for March 2012 – March 2013 is the most comprehensive that we’ve organised and will provide tremendous opportunities for Northern Ireland companies to explore those global markets that are continuing to grow and subsequently win profitable business.
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"The new programme lists 70 events including trade missions and opportunities to take part in major industry exhibitions in almost every continent. Our aim in shaping such an extensive programme of events is to encourage more companies, especially first time exporters, than ever before to look abroad for new business, in the markets that are right for them.

"The programme is also an important response by Invest NI to the targets of 15 per cent growth in manufacturing exports by 2015 and 25,000 new jobs set in the draft Programme for Government. Greater sales abroad will lead to more and better employment opportunities.

"Currently manufacturing exports beyond the British Isles are worth £5.1 billion and sales outside Northern Ireland including to Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland £12.4 billion. The target of 15 per cent growth in exports is certainly achievable but we should remember that we are facing challenging economic conditions. We need to continually encourage established exporters look to new markets and get many more businesses to widen their sales horizons and become exporters."

Targeted sectors will include renewable energies, computer games technology, mobile communications, life sciences, especially Connected Health, and ICT.

The Market Visits Programme, developed by Invest NI in consultation with local exporting companies, also includes targeted events for companies in sectors such as construction, quarrying / mining / screening and food.

(LB/GK)

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