Dutch focus brings export success worth £6m

Local companies secured £6 million worth of business in the Netherlands last year, thanks to Invest Northern Ireland trade initiatives in the region.

Delegates at the fourth annual Northern Ireland-Netherlands Trade, (NI-NL) and Export Society dinner held in Belfast last night, heard details of the successes and export potential in the Dutch market.  

Speaking at the dinner, Tracy Meharg, Invest NI’s Managing Director of Innovation and Capability Development said: “Over recent years, Northern Ireland has had great opportunities to enhance trade and export links with The Netherlands, and there is much scope for further growth.

“The Netherlands is now the sixth most important European market for our manufacturers. Customers in the Netherlands purchased goods worth £95million, 6 per cent of our total exports to markets on the Continent in 2008/09.”

“Although The Netherlands, is one of Europe’s smallest nations, in geographical terms, it has achieved an impressive position as the world’s sixth largest exporter. The Netherlands is therefore an excellent role model for Northern Ireland as an export-focused community with a concentration on innovative products and services.

“In order to accelerate economic growth, I would encourage local businesses to take advantage of the opportunities that exist to develop export links. Last year, 17 local companies benefited from Invest Northern Ireland’s innovative ‘Going Dutch’ programme, which offers businesses extensive on-the-ground, practical support from an experienced marketing consultancy.”

Ms Meharg added: “I want to encourage and support a great many more of our companies to explore business in open markets such as The Netherlands, building mutually beneficial business relationships.”

Keynote speaker, Mr Laurens Westhoff, Minister Plenipotentiary and Deputy Head of Mission said: "Despite the recent economic downturn we see a lot of interest and activity in Northern Ireland from Dutch companies, and vice versa.

“This is the fourth consecutiveNorthern Ireland - Netherlands Dinner, with ever increasing participation from the business community. There are many excellent business opportunities here, as the food and agricultural companies in the Dutch trade delegation will testify. I am confident our economic ties will further deepen in the years to come."

NI-NL is a not-for-profit organisation, which is a forum and platform for companies and professionals active, or who wish to be active, in trade between Northern Ireland and The Netherlands. NI-NL was formed in 2006 by Invest Northern Ireland, Lisburn City Council and Northern Ireland Trade Consultants to develop partnerships in trade, enterprise and investment between Northern Ireland and The Netherlands.

Over 80 guests attended the dinner including 34 representatives from Dutch companies, Northern Ireland business leaders and business influencers.