Irish SMEs are capturing a significant share of exports to North Africa, Middle East and Gulf region.
Irish exports to the Arab world reached €1.46bn for the first half of 2023 with notable increases in exports to Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.
The CEO of the Arab Irish Chamber of Commerce Ahmad Younis says that while Ireland is trading strongly with the Middle East and Gulf. “It’s a region that is still underexploited in terms of the opportunities for Irish businesses.”
“The Irish are well liked there and we share many of the same cultural values. But it’s important to have a strong understanding of the region’s business culture in order to succeed”
The Arab world comprises 22 countries, many of which are experiencing rapidly growing economies, and populations.
Countries such as Saudi Arabia are investing billions of dollars in infrastructure, urban development and tourism and, with trade agreements with the EU making access to these markets easier than ever before, the potential for Irish businesses to tap into these markets is significant.
In addition to merchandise, the Arab Irish Chamber of Commerce estimates that trade in services, worth an estimated €4bn in 2022, will meet if not exceed the overall value of goods exported to the Arab states this year.
“Traditionally, Irish businesses and senior executives with expertise in sectors such as technology, aviation, infrastructure and tourism have done very well in the Arab world,” said Younis.
“The Irish are well liked there and we share many of the same cultural values. But it’s important to have a strong understanding of the region’s business culture in order to succeed. Patience is also required as it can take time to negotiate a deal but when it happens, things move at pace and the rewards can be monumental once you break into these markets.”
Export success is not confined to the multi-nationals with SMEs capturing a significant share of the market, which includes pharma and healthcare, IT, food and drink, animal feed, cosmetics and toiletries.
Following the release of the latest export figures, Ahmad Younis outlined details of an Arab Irish conference, which will take place at the Mansion House in Dublin on 13 September 2023.
Speakers include former Tourism Ireland CEO, Niall Gibbons, Nick Cole, CEO of DAA International, Richard Fitzgerald (Lovin Dubai and Lovin Saudi Arabia), strategy and investment professional, Ayesha Sultan and COO of the Bahrain Stock Exchange, Abdulla Adbin.
“Whether you are already doing business there or looking to expand your operation beyond Ireland, the Arab Irish Business Forum is a must-attend event for any Irish business. It will feature an experienced line-up of speakers from the Arab states alongside business leaders from Ireland who can offer unique insight into their experiences with the region,” Younis said.
Registration is open now at www.arabirishbusinessforum.ie
January to June 2022 V 2023 export figures (merchandise / goods only)
- Saudi Arabia, 6% growth in Irish exports to €464M
- Morocco, 21% growth in Irish exports to €69M
- Tunisia, from a lower base but experiencing growth of 148% with Irish exports hitting €17M in the first half of 2023
- Algeria, with a growing population of some 45M people and offering significant potential: 118% growth in Irish exports to €5.8M during the same period