Ireland to set up business office in Abu Dhabi

As the Irish economy rebounds, Enterprise Ireland, the government's trade and technology arm, is to establish a permanent presence in Abu Dhabi.

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Ireland will establish a permanent business-promotion office in Abu Dhabi as it seeks to use its rebounding economy as a springboard to speed up the flow of trade and investment.

The announcement was made during a visit by the Irish prime minister, Enda Kenny, to the capital yesterday. Mr Kenny is leading the country’s biggest business delegation to the GCC, taking in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

“Enterprise Ireland is the trade and technology board of the Irish government,” said Mr Kenny, during the Abu Dhabi-Ireland Business Forum. “Its role is to ensure the business partners, customers and associates of Irish companies are fully informed about the benefits of doing business with Ireland, and the establishment of an office in Abu Dhabi is a significant step in that direction.”

Enterprise Ireland already has an office in Dubai serving the UAE and the wider region, but the additional office in Abu Dhabi is in response to greater interest in the capital from Irish companies.

Bilateral trade between Ireland and the UAE in 2012 reached €1 billion (Dh5bn), a figure officials expect to rise after Ireland’s economy emerged from recession in the second quarter of last year.

Mr Kenny said export growth would remain at a high level this year, as the economy expanded by 2 per cent.

“After three difficult budgets, things are beginning to point in the right direction,” he said.

Last month it became the first stricken euro zone country to exit its rescue programme. Three years prior the €67.5bn package provided by a trio of international lenders helped to avert Ireland from bankruptcy after a downturn in its property market.

Since then it has curtailed public spending, while pushing through business-friendly reforms. As a result, Forbes magazine last month rated the country the best for business in the world.

Now, Ireland is keen to tempt investment from the UAE.

“We have been very strongly attractive for foreign investment coming into the country, which is an opportunity for the UAE also,” said Mr Kenny.

In a sign of returning investor confidence in Ireland, the country’s bond yields have dropped to their lowest level in eight years. The country sold €3.75bn of bonds on Tuesday at a yield of 3.54 per cent.

The Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry intends to lead a delegation to Ireland later this year, Mr Kenny said. Previously in Qatar, he said the Qatar Investment Authority would also travel to Ireland in the coming months to examine opportunities in a number of areas.

Businesses from information communications technology, finance and construction are among those on the mission. Many are keen to expand their export markets or establish a presence in the GCC.

Some have already generated positive news during the trip. The engineering company Kentz International Ireland plans to open a new branch in Doha, offering services in oil, gas, transportation and infrastructure, the Irish Times reported yesterday. The mobility solutions provider Díona Technologies also said it had sealed a partnership deal with the Qatar-based IT firm MDS, the newspaper reported.

tarnold@thenational.ae