Going Dutch To Boost Business In Southern Region

Around 20 companies have been told by Invest Northern Ireland’s Southern Local Office (SLO) in Newry how they could improve their business by ‘Going Dutch’.

The companies took part in the roll out of Invest NI’s ‘Going Dutch’ programme by SLO in Newry last Friday.

The programme, which is being marketed and organised by Invest NI’s Local Office Network in association with the agency’s Belfast-based Trade division, offers smaller companies (SMEs) advice and practical assistance to explore business opportunities in the Netherlands.

Companies wishing to explore opportunities in the Netherlands are able to take part in a series of workshops designed to help them understand how to do business in this market and develop their overall export skills and knowledge. They also receive in-market assistance from Invest NI’s contracted trade consultancy in the Netherlands, Northern Ireland Trade Consultants (NITC), which has a successful track record of helping local companies win business there.

The programme also includes an opportunity to visit the market on an Invest NI business mission. NITC supports the mission participants by lining up a targeted schedule of meetings for each company with potential customers in the Netherlands.

Mark Bleakney, SLO Manager, says: “The ‘Going Dutch’ programme is an integral part of our drive to persuade and help SMEs in South Down and Armagh to focus on exports for sustainable growth and thereby to create greater wealth for their local communities.

“We are already working alongside our colleagues in Belfast on a series of practical measures that will help SMEs to strengthen their business. Most of the companies that have expressed interest in ‘Going Dutch’ have experience of doing business in the Irish Republic and Great Britain and are ready to move into a new market with different procedures.”

“The Netherlands is an ideal market for new and inexperienced exporters because it is accessible and has longstanding links with the UK and Ireland. Many business people there also have knowledge of English,” he adds.

Commenting on the programme, Alan Hingston, Invest NI’s Trade Director, says: “A number of SMEs which have already taken part in ‘Going Dutch’ following its roll out in Derry and Omagh have secured initial business in the Netherlands. Others have lined up representatives there and are confident of business over the next year. “

“The Netherlands, furthermore, is an excellent base which SMEs can use to increase their knowledge of and contacts in neighbouring markets such as Belgium, Germany and Denmark. The Netherlands, in addition, has a longstanding trading tradition with global links from centres such as Amsterdam and Rotterdam. This offers companies excellent opportunities to supply globally from contacts made in Netherlands,” he adds.