Trade links with Germany vital, says Richard Bruton
Essential for Ireland to move beyond traditional strengths, says Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation after three-day trip to Germany
Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton: “Germany and France have been two of the most successful markets in the last years.” Photograph: Matt Kavanagh
Growing trade ties with Germany will be a key component in Ireland’s economic recovery, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton has said.
After a three-day trip to Germany, Mr Bruton said it was essential for Ireland to go beyond traditional strengths, such as attracting foreign direct investment from the US, to encourage companies to explore opportunities in Europe’s largest economies.
“Germany and France have been two of the most successful markets in the last years and these markets are instrumental in driving our recovery of Irish-owned business,” he said. “It is not an either/or. America has been important but . . . the message is getting through that Enterprise Ireland’s strategy of supporting high-potential start-ups is seeing major breakthroughs.”
Germany is Ireland’s second-largest trading partner for services and fourth-largest trading partner for goods. Last year total Irish exports to Germany rose 16 per cent to €7.5 billion
The Düsseldorf office of Enterprise Ireland has worked closely with Irish client companies, seeing their exports rise by 22 per cent and 17 per cent respectively in 2010 and 2011. These companies support 1,300 jobs in Ireland and created 180 new positions last year.
“I think that the message is getting through that what Ireland needs is a strong multinational core with successful clusters, but we need to build out from that, too,” said Mr Bruton.
After years of UK dominance, he said, Irish companies were undergoing a “huge switch” to European markets, creating a more diversified base for the Irish economy.
Among the companies Mr Bruton visited on his four-city tour was the family-run Wirtgen Group, an engineering company typical of the Mittelstand small- and medium-sized companies that form the backbone of the German economy.
For over a decade, Wirtgen has purchased hydraulic cylinders from Carlow’s Burnside Eurocyl.
“Burnside started out in the 1980s as a road contractor but has now developed a niche into a worldwide competence,” said Mr Bruton. "To see an Irish business providing a core piece of hydraulic shafts into [Wirtgen] equipment is an exciting development.”
Other German-Irish collaborations include a green technologies partnership between Bavaria’s EnOcean and Solarprint of Dublin. Irish photovoltaic company Nines is developing products with Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute.
Concluding his four-day visit, Mr Bruton hosted a dinner in Munich last night for these and other Irish companies with similar German partnerships.