Dáil Éireann - Volume 630 - 31 January, 2007
Written Answers. - Trade Missions.
Mr. English Mr. English
Mr. English asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his assessment of the recent trade mission to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2597/07]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Mr. Martin: I accompanied the Taoiseach, Mr. Bertie Ahern TD on the very successful trade mission, organised by Enterprise Ireland, to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) from 14th to 19th January 2007. The Minister for Agriculture and Food Ms. Mary Coughlan TD and the Minister for Education and Science Ms. Mary Hanafin TD also participated. The mission visited Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
These countries were chosen because Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates represent the two most important economies for Ireland in the Gulf region. Saudi Arabia is initiating a 10-year National Development Plan, involving the expenditure in excess of €500bn, which offers major opportunities for Irish companies to sell their expertise and skills. Dubai’s position, as the key hub for business operations across the Middle East, is due to its booming market, geographic position, increasingly pro business environment and adoption of mainly Western business rules. Dubai is also the regional business base for a large number of multinationals and emerging Arab regional companies.
A total of 114 Irish companies participated, mainly from the ICT, Educational Services, Environmental and Engineering Services, Medical Devices and Food and Drinks sectors. The  group included representatives of 20 companies from Northern Ireland, reflecting the increasing co-operation on trade among companies and business organisations across the island of Ireland.
The Mission has been regarded as a significant success. Over 1,200 meetings took place between the Irish participants and their potential and existing customers. Two major business meetings organised by Enterprise Ireland and addressed by An Taoiseach, were held in Riyadh and Dubai and were attended by 400 and 500 people respectively. Other events organised by Enterprise Ireland included a software workshop which I opened and two Education workshops at which Minister Hanafin presided.
During the mission, a total of 25 significant agreements were signed. Initial estimates from companies and organisations who participated, place the likely future value of agreements reached, at €65 million.
Dáil Éireann 630 Written Answers. Trade Missions.