The Canadian Ambassador briefs Irish SMEs on export opportunities

The Ambassador of Canada to Ireland, Kevin Vickers, addresses SMEs at Irish Exporters Association National Export Hub Seminar in Shannon

Shannon, 20th September 2017: The Irish Exporters Association’s National Export Hub launched its first publication, ‘An Exporters Guide’, a publication aimed at providing top tips for exporting, at the second National Export Hub Networking Seminar of 2017 which took place at the Viewing Gallery, Shannon Airport, Co Clare.

The Networking Seminar, run by the National Export Hub, an initiative of the Irish Exporters Association and sponsors ABP Foods, AIB, DHL Express, Euler Hermes and PwC in conjunction with Bord Bia and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade aims to educate and inform Irish SMEs around the practicalities of exporting, the assistance available and the solutions they ought to consider to help them to grow their exports and in some cases, export for the first time. The event, titled “Market Diversification and Business Opportunities in Canada and North America” is timely as the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) will be provisionally applied on 21st September. From that date duty rates on traded goods will be reduced or eliminated.

This morning’s seminar focused particularly on the potential export opportunities for Irish companies trading in Canada and North America. The event was headlined with a keynote address from H.E. Kevin Vickers, the Ambassador of Canada to Ireland who provided expert insight into the new Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada. Attendees were briefed on: tariff elimination; simplified border procedures; streamlined supply chains; and greater access to Canadian government procurement contracts.

The publication launched at the event today, ‘An Exporters Guide’ is a collaboration between the Irish Exporters Association, the programme sponsors ABP Foods, AIB, DHL Express, Euler Hermes and PwC and programme collaborators Bord Bia, Department of Foreign Affairs and InterTradeIreland. The publication will be an important point of reference for anyone looking to expand their business beyond Ireland. It is targeted at Irish SME’s, early stage and first time exporters and provides advice on all aspects of exporting including Finance, Insurance, Logistics and Tax. It also features best practise advice from a well-established exporter and first hand advice from an early stage exporter.

Event speakers:

H.E. Kevin Vickers, Canadian Ambassador to Ireland commented: “With the implementation of CETA (this Thursday), Canada, Ireland, and the EU have set the standard for a new generation of trade agreements that reflect the progressive values that we share for the benefit of all. With CETA, we are all winners.”

Speaking at the event today, Simon McKeever, Chief Executive, Irish Exporters Association commented: “The National Export Hub is a service offering dedicated to helping and supporting SMEs, whether that is assisting them on their current export journey or helping those new to exporting with advice and support as they look to scale their business by entering new markets. Shannon is an extremely important thriving export location, given its thriving cluster of ICT, Life Sciences and Manufacturers. We are particularly delighted today to have the Canadian Ambassador, Kevin Vickers address Irish SMEs on the future of the Irish-Canadian bi-lateral trade relationship and the new CETA agreement. What Brexit has shown us is that Ireland needs to grow its market share in other markets and become less reliant on not only the UK, but also the EU and US. CETA holds huge opportunities for Irish firms and the benefits are far reaching with new market opportunities in many sectors for Irish SMEs. We have seen increasing interest in trade with Canada in the last 6 months and there is an increasing demand for cross border trade following the recent announcement of Air Canada flights from Shannon.”

Gerry O’Connor, Sales Manager, Mincon stated“The Mincon group was founded in Ireland in 1977 and is a leading manufacturer and supplier of drilling solutions across a number of important global sectors including mining, waterwell, oil and gas and exploration. Mincon have an already established network in North America, and FTA’s such as CETA allow for a more streamlined distribution process between global business entities. Well-connected global supply chains offer competitive advantage for both direct service to customers and the redistribution of stock in global locations. As well as opening up new markets for direct sales to customers from Ireland, CETA will also reduce the complexity and cost in supply chains between the EU and Canada”

Vicki O’Toole, Managing Director, JJ O’Toole packaging stated: “JJ O’Toole Ltd is unrecognisable to the company it was 10 years ago, not to mention when it was established in 1914. Like our competitors, we were known as a packaging supplier. Now we have blossomed into a creative packaging Company that is sought out by branding agencies and blue chip retailers in Ireland and the UK to create, design, supply and deliver packaging. As a result we now stand apart from our market competitors. In the last few years, we have grown our skillset, our turnover, and in turn our confidence. We are dealing on a daily basis with the giants of retailers such as Selfridges, Dunnes Stores, Brown Thomas, Lloyds, Fenwick, etc. We believe that JJ O’Toole Ltd, a company based in the West of Ireland, have won these prestigious accounts, because we are the experts in the field of packaging and our service levels are exemplary. Our next challenge is to leverage our existing expertise and experience to further grow our international markets”

Dermot Graham, Head of Business Banking Clare and Limerick, AIB commented: “AIB is committed to supporting our business customers in exploring new markets. In light of the uncertainty that Brexit poses for Irish SMEs, this has become much more pressing for some. With over €30 billion of Irish goods exported to the USA and Canada in 2016, it is a vital market for Irish exporters and one that we must continue to develop and grow”

Bernard McCarthy, Managing Director, DHL Express stated: “With the triggering of Article 50, Brexit is fast approaching.  While a level of uncertainty still exists in terms of how exactly Brexit will be implemented, it’s clear that Irish businesses need to take advantage of this opportunity to diversify their international markets beyond the UK. Canada and the EU have a long history of economic co-operation and now CETA will enable the process of expansion to be simplified.  This trade agreement represents a huge opportunity for Irish businesses to expand their international sales and reduce their risk to the impact of Brexit”

Dean O’Brien, Country Manager, Euler Hermes Ireland, said: “Exporting is in the blood of Irish companies but trading abroad on open credit terms can carry extra risk. Globally payment behaviours continue to be tense: one in four companies worldwide is paid after 88 days, and while the overall number of insolvencies is expected to stabilize, major insolvencies for companies exceeding €50 million in turnover are up by 68%. Euler Hermes can help exporters find the best overseas trading partnerships and offers the additional support of insuring payments if things go wrong.”

John O’Loughlin, leader of the Global Trade and Customs group in PwC Ireland commented: “PwC is delighted to see the introduction of CETA and considers it a really positive opportunity for Irish businesses.  Following the introduction of previous Free Trade Agreements, we have seen a sharp rise in exports to those markets. This has the effect of supporting growth and generating highly skilled jobs within Irish companies accessing those markets. Other benefits of CETA will include reduced duty cost in both the EU and Canada which will result in the creation of increased options in sourcing raw materials for manufacturing activities and will also provide benefits when sourcing or selling finished products. This comes at an ideal time as Irish companies who had previously relied heavily on trade with the UK look to access alternative markets and CETA will see Irish companies increase their footprint in Canada. PwC has experience in helping companies to analyse their supply chains in order to obtain maximum benefit from the introduction of such agreements.”