Cinq conseils pour réussir – La République d’Irlande

The Republic of Ireland is a full member of the European Union, the Eurozone and the Single Market. After the departure of the UK, who are now set to leave the European Union on the 31st of January 2020, Ireland will enjoy the status of being the only English speaking member country of the Union. Coupled with an attractive 12,5% Corporate Tax rate, the country is very well positioned to attract foreign investment and to welcome foreign companies for business.

After the economic crisis in 2008 and four years of unprecedented fiscal adjustment framed by the EU-IMF assistance program (2010-December 2013), Ireland has seen record growth amongst its EU and OECD partners, with growth figures of 6.7% in 2018 and looking at further growth of 3.8% in 2019 and 3.4% in 2020.

Nevertheless, the Irish economy still faces some difficulties as a result of this rapid growth, such as housing shortages, price inflation, and pressure on infrastructure and wages.

Brexit today is one of the main concerns the country is dealing with. Ireland is very exposed to possible effects a hard or soft Brexit might have, due to its interlinked trade relations with the United Kingdom. This exposure however is also creating opportunities for Belgian companies. Ireland currently sources a large amount of products from the UK. To make sure there is no disruption in their supply chain, Irish companies are now looking for new suppliers to keep their trade flow within the European Union.

Another Brexit related issue Irish and Belgian companies are confronted with is the use of the UK as a landbridge to move goods from Belgium to Ireland and vice versa. New border inspections could result in high costs and delays for companies going in and out of the UK. This is now countered by new direct, regular and reliable shipping routes between Belgian and Irish ports.

Belgium is now the second export country for Ireland with €19.7 billion of exports in 2018, which were mainly generated in the pharma / chemical sector. Exports from Belgium to Ireland keep growing year on year, with €2.3 billion exported to Ireland in 2018.

Belgian companies with activities in the construction sector, renewable energy, life sciences and agri-food, should certainly keep Ireland on their radar as a potential export country in the coming years.

The following pointers should be kept in mind when approaching the Irish market:

  • Ireland is a completely separate country from the UK, do not assume it is the same market.
  • When getting in touch with companies, note that people appreciate a personal and first name basis approach.
  • A UK distributor is possible but not always the right fit. Make sure your distributor understands the regions of Ireland and has a good network in the country.
  • Take the time to visit local exhibitions and trade shows. At those fairs you will get a flavour of the market and possibly meet your Irish partners. In this regard, personal contact is of great importance. Make sure to visit your clients or invite them to Belgium. There are several daily flights to and from Ireland with Ryanair and Aer Lingus.
  • The Irish market is small but selective. A strong USP together with fluent English are both very important to create an interest in your products.

Please do not hesitate to contact the AWEX Dublin office if you require any further information.

Jacques VANHOUCKE, Conseiller Economique et Commercial AWEX (Dublin)(Novembre 2019)

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