• Irish Exporters Association Launches Latin America Policy Document

    Irish Exporters Association Launches Latin America Policy Document

    July 10th, 2015 – Dublin – The Irish Exporters Association’s Latin America Trade Forum (LATF) this morning launched a policy document on Latin America titled “Ireland and Latin America, looking to the Future, Strategy and Proposals for Trade Growth” at a Seminar on ‘Business Opportunities in Central America’, focusing in particular on the SICA countries. Hosted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade at Iveagh House, Dublin 2, the event brought 80 guests together including Ambassadors and representatives from eight Latin American Embassies based in Ireland and the UK, and Enterprise Ireland.

    Key Findings from Policy Document

    • For over 30 years the Irish presence in Latin America has been strengthening steadily, however, Ireland’s current levels of trade with Latin America are low – in 2013 total Irish exports of goods to Latin America represented only 1.5% of Ireland’s total exports of goods worldwide with the top exports to the region being medical and pharmaceutical products, soft drink concentrate and chemical materials & products.
    • Ireland’s main trading partners in the region are Mexico, Brazil and Argentina totalling €1,030 million or 78% of the total of goods exported to Latin America in 2013. Irish exports to Mexico alone were €1.2 billion in 2014 (CSO, 2014).
    • To ensure that more Irish companies avail of the opportunities Latin America has to offer, it is to be expected that additional private and public resources will be deployed.
    • To harness the business opportunities the region offers, it is essential that Irish exporters partner with local experts in order to effectively address supply chain challenges; the slow pace of infrastructure developments, regulatory/legal requirements, geo-political risks, labour productivity and cultural disconnect.
    • Regional and bilateral trade agreements have greatly facilitated business transactions with Latin America, which have further been enhanced by national and regional efforts around education policies, legislation and energy reform.
    • Changes in legislation by the Irish Government to both the Irish tax relief for foreign earnings and the Irish Capital Gains Tax exemption for foreign subsidiaries would help encourage Irish companies to expand into Latin America.
    • Ireland has three double taxation agreements with three Latin American countries: Mexico, Chile and Panama. This contrasts with Asia where Ireland has concluded fifteen treaties, of which seven were signed in the past five years. These are key to assisting Irish companies’ expansion into new markets.
    • Political Relations and the role of Embassy networks, Enterprise Ireland and IDA are very strong between Ireland and the region.

    Proposals for the Future:

    1. Establish an Irish umbrella networking group focused on Latin America
    2. Increase Ireland’s political and commercial profile in Latin America
    3. Increase government and business resources
    4. Strengthen ties with Latin America through languages, student and work exchange programmes.
    5. Accelerate Tax Agreements with Latin American nations
    6. Focus on Latin America as an export market.
    7. Build up a knowledge base of sectorial and regional opportunities.

    About the Seminar

    The seminar highlighted the region’s trade potential, its predicted growth to increase 3% year on year by 2017, and countries such as Costa Rica and Panama to exceed this prediction. Costa Rica and Panama are two out of eight member states that make up the Central American Integration System (SICA). SICA is the institutional framework of regional integration in Central America and has set among its objectives the establishment, not only of a free-trade zone, but also of a common market. The SICA member states are Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. SICA represents a region rich in biodiversity that serves as a bridge for the Americas, with the Panama Canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans surrounding Latin America. SICA member states’ population is estimated at about 52.3 million people, with a combined GDP of US$417 billion in 2013.

    The Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr Niall Burgess, said: “This is an important opportunity to examine how Ireland and the SICA countries can expand our trade relations. Current trade levels are about €200m per annum, but there is scope to grow this further. Both the Central American region and Ireland have strong and complementary agricultural exports, and we could also grow our trade in medical devices, IT software and equipment. As the region continues its impressive economic development we can also look at the possibility of greater trade in financial services, aviation, and education exchanges.”

    “Such growing trade relations will help underpin our bilateral diplomatic relations with countries in the region. We work effectively with Central American and Caribbean states in the UN and other multilateral fora due to our shared interests and like-minded approach to solving global issues. The emergence of SICA will only strengthen the region’s voice to the benefit of our common goals.”

    Patrick Daly, Chairman, Latin America Trade Forum commented: “I hope this document will convey the scale and diversity of the region that we refer to as Latin America, a region which stretches from the US-Mexico border in North America all the way to the Antarctic islands and waters of Chile and Argentina in the south. The aim of this document is to act as a valuable tool and source of reference for Irish businesses to connect with this vibrant, fascinating and welcoming region of the world with dynamic economies open for business whether that be export, investment, tourism or study. I would like to thank our 2014 sponsors Arthur Cox, Digicel, Fyffes, FEXCO Commercial FX Services, KPMG and World Courier without whom it would not have been possible to develop and produce this policy document and to acknowledge the ongoing support from the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade and Enterprise Ireland.”

    Simon McKeever, Chief Executive, Irish Exporters Association commented: “The LATF is an energetic part of our organisation supporting Irish based companies to grow and develop business opportunities in the Latin American region. This policy document identifies the strength of our political and business relations. It is evident that now is the time for Irish exporters to harness the opportunities the region has to offer.”

    H.E. Werner Romero, Embassy of El Salvador commented: “SICA is the acronym for the Central American Integration System, an institutional framework of the regional integration process of 8 countries: Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. SICA countries work together in areas such as trade, health, security, environment (among others) in regional projects that benefit all of them. SICA countries represent a combined market of some 52 million people and a combined GDP of £257 billion”.


    Notes to Editors:

    Pictures will be sent to the picture desks.

    For press queries contact:
    Vicki Caplin, Head of Marketing, Irish Exporters Association
    T: 087 9871137
    Email: vickicaplin@irishexporters.ie

    Marta Marin, Bilateral Associations Assistant, Irish Exporters Association
    T: 01 642 4170 / 086 069 1460
    Email: martamarin@irishexporters.ie

    About the Latin America region:

    Latin America is a region with a population of over 600 million (World Population Statistics), a GDP of US$ 5.657 trillion (2013) and a growing middle class with increased purchasing power. Growth in the region is forecast to increase 3% on average by 2017, with even higher growth expected in countries like Costa Rica and Panama, some of the member states that make up the Central American Integration System, SICA, an institutional framework of regional integration in Central America which has set among its objectives the establishment of a free-trade zone and a common market. The Pacific Alliance countries are Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru.

    About the LATF:

    The LATF supports Irish companies looking to export to Latin America and promotes and fosters trade, economic and commercial relations between Ireland and Latin America. The LATF positions itself as the umbrella group bringing Ireland and Latin America focused companies, industry organisations, educational bodies, government and diplomatic services together. It seeks to increase connectivity to resources on the ground through government and local industry groups that will assist Irish companies establish themselves in the Latin American market. The LATF aims to unite government agencies, networking bodies and industry to promote greater trade, economic and cultural ties between Ireland and Latin America. To achieve this, the forum organises a range of networking events, information seminars and roundtables designed to grow and foster awareness of the full range of opportunities that exist for Irish companies in Latin America. The LATF is sponsored by Digicel Group, Fyffes and KPMG. Email: latf@irishexporters.ie; Website: www.irishexporters.ie/latin-america-trade-forum; LinkedIn: http://goo.gl/JB00Az

    About the Irish Exporters Association:

    The Irish Exporters Association (IEA) is the ‘Voice of the Export Industry’ in Ireland. We represent the whole spectrum of companies within the export industry including SME’s who are beginning to think about exporting for the first time right through to global multinational companies who are already extensively exporting from Ireland. The IEA is the connecting force for Irish exporters, providing practical knowledge and support across the Island of Ireland and in foreign markets.