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Our trade role

Ireland is open for business and the Government is committed to supporting export growth and encouraging inward investment. Our Embassy network is ideally placed to promote Ireland’s economic and trade interests overseas and contribute towards our economic recovery.

Pictured at the 2015 launch of both the Saint Patrick’s Day ‘Promote Ireland’ programme and the Enterprise Ireland annual trade mission/event programme at the offices of Enterprise Ireland client company ding*: Minister Flanagan with Minister Bruton; Julie Sinnamon, Enterprise Ireland CEO; and Mark English, ding* COO.

Our trade objectives

  • Raise Ireland’s profile as an attractive location for business investment
  • Ensure support overseas to investors, exporters, buyers and tourists
  • Maximise the contribution of the Diaspora to Ireland’s economic development 

Ireland’s trade strategy

Ireland Connected: Trading and Investing in a Dynamic World, is a cohesive, whole-of-government strategy that builds on existing successes and sets ambitious targets for Ireland's exports, foreign direct investment, tourism and international education. Ireland Connected is the successor to the previous Trade, Tourism and Investment Strategy, which ran from 2010 to 2015 and saw extraordinary success despite low growth in the global economy during that period.

We are facing new challenges. We have faced and overcome challenges in the past. We know that by working together, as Team Ireland, at home and overseas, we will achieve our shared ambition of success in international markets for the country and for our citizens.

Trade policy, trade strategy, sectoral development, and implementation of enterprise objectives sit with different Government Departments and agencies. Ireland Connected provides the framework ad strategic direction towards 2025 that aims to harness our collective expertise to realise our ambition in the face of unprecedented challenges.

Through Ireland Connected, we will walk across Ireland's global footprint to support and facilitate Irish business. We will ensure optimal engagement across the range of Ireland's trade, investment, tourism, research and education interests.

Trade policy, which deals with the regulation of imports and exports, is dealt with by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

Promoting Ireland abroad and sharing the Government's economic message is central to the work of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and our Embassy network. Our Ambassadors play a key role in chairing Local Market Teams to ensure a coordinated approach in priority markets, and we work with the following State agencies, which are using their expertise to help people do business with Ireland:

  • Enterprise Ireland
  • IDA Ireland
  • Bord Bia
  • Tourism Ireland
  • Science Foundation Ireland

Export Trade Council

We coordinate the work of the Export Trade Council, which is responsible for monitoring the Government Trade Strategy.

The Council meets at plenary level twice a year and is chaired by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charles Flanagan, TD.

Other Council members include:

  • The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
  • The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine
  • The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport
  • The Minister for Education and Skills
  • The Minister of State for Development, Trade Promotion and North-South Co-operation
  • The CEOs of Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Bord Bia, Tourism Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland
  • Officials from other Government Departments and representatives from the private sector.

Joint Economic Commissions

We’re responsible for organising and chairing Ireland’s Joint Economic Commissions (JECs) with high-growth and emerging market countries. Ireland has separate JECs with China, the Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia and Russia.

These meetings aim to increase trade and investment and to develop economic, business, scientific and technological co-operation. They are usually held every two years.

Trade missions

Trade missions are a valuable way of developing new and existing markets overseas for Irish businesses. This is particularly important given the value of exports to our economy. We work with the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to support Enterprise Ireland’s programme of trade missions, which in 2014, includes 18 Ministerial-led visits to developed and high-growth markets. Minister Flanagan and the respective Ministers of State play important roles in supporting Irish companies by leading a number of these trade missions overseas.

The promotion of Irish trade and investment also featured significantly in other high level visits throughout the year, including for example, the State visits by the President to the UK and China in April and December, respectively and visits abroad by the Taoiseach and Cabinet Ministers.

In addition, the promotion and expansion of trade between Ireland and Africa is an important priority of our Africa Strategy, in line also with the overall Government Trade Strategy.


See below a small selection of results brought about by strong Local Market Team and HQ coordination:

  • Market Access: Local Market Teams continued to push for greater access for Irish products in international markets. Notable examples include Ireland becoming the first European country to be granted full access for its beef in the US market since the lifting of the BSE ban.
  • State Visit to China: The State Visit to China by President Higgins in December 2014 saw extensive coordination between Embassy Beijing, the Consulate in Shanghai, State agencies and representatives from our education sector. A number of events were organised throughout the visit to promote cooperation in the fields of culture, food promotion, education, trade and science. One positive outcome from this coordination was the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding to boost research, education and technology ties between Ireland and China.
  • Air Access: Negotiations supported increased capacity and expanded services on air routes to Ireland. A total of 35 new routes commenced from Dublin and Shannon during 2014 with increased frequency on another 37 existing routes.