Image of Mo Harvey

 The future looks regulated – regtech report

Photo of Mo Harvey, fintech advisor

The Irish fintech sector has long been dominated by the payments industry but the regtech (regulatory technology) sector in particular has been quietly achieving great heights globally and without much fanfare, until now.

Mo Harvey, Financial Services & FinTech Advisor, Hong Kong, says the sector is often overlooked as it is not consumer-facing, but in fact regtech has been steadily growing in sophistication and applicability.

“There are varying definitions out there (as to what regtech is) but, at its core, it is the use of new technologies by institutions, banks, insurance companies or any regulated entity to meet regulatory compliance challenges in a more efficient way,” she explains. “It transforms risk management and compliance functions and enables companies to strategise and grow while complying with even the most complex regulations.

“Ireland is an important centre for international financial services with a high-quality talent pool working in legal, risk and compliance functions – currently, regtech is the largest indigenous fintech sub-sector and it is bubbling with promise.” says Harvey. 

 

Global Regtech Market

According to Harvey, regtech is the ‘unsung hero’ of the fintech sector and the Asia-Pacific region is ripe for Irish firms within in the sector.

“Pre-pandemic, the global regtech market was predicted to grow from USD$6.3 billion in 2020 to USD$16.0 billion by 2025, a rate of over 20% per year, with Asia-Pacific accounting for the highest growth rate over this period,” she says.  “However, COVID-19 caused an acceleration in adoption in tandem with a fintech boom so the market could hit as high as USD$30 billion by 2025.

“Market and industry drivers such as the 2008 financial crisis, increasing regulatory enforcement actions and fines, proactive regulators encouraging regtech adoption, digital banks, payments and lending, virtual assets and remote onboarding are just some of the contributing factors which have created opportunity for specialised solutions.

“Regtech adoption is mature in Europe and the USA, but Asia-Pacific presents an interesting opportunity for regtech companies. It is a uniquely fragmented region of developed and developing markets, with a number of sophisticated financial ecosystems and complex regulatory environments.” confirms Harvey. 

 

Expanding the Irish Regtech Footprint

Enterprise Ireland began its Asia-Pacific wide regtech initiative over three years ago and has just released its ground-breaking report on The State of RegTech in APAC, and Mo Harvey says the report has even garnered support from all the key fintech ecosystem players throwing their weight behind it, from the APAC RegTech Network and The Regtech Association of Australia to the FinTech Associations of Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, and Malaysia.

“We could see an increasing number of regtech companies coming out of Ireland and an alignment in terms of potential and opportunity in Asia-Pacific,” she says. “What started as an exclusive market research for Irish regtech companies to help them understand the nuances of the region, has now become the authority on regtech in Asia-Pacific.

“Consequently, people are starting to take note of what Irish regtechs have to offer out here.”

 

Plenty of opportunity for Irish firms

Covid 19 may have caused many problems for industry in every sector across the globe but the fintech expert says it has brought about some positivity for companies in the regtech sector.

Right now, we have a perfect storm of opportunity,” says Harvey. “Regtech adoption in Australia is well-advanced but it is at a relatively early stage in the Asian banking market with opportunities for further growth.

“While many banks have started using regtech, most commonly in financial crime, regtech is employed in a low percentage of risk management and regulatory compliance activities.

“The breadth of regtech adoption is expected to increase over the next year, especially in the areas of conduct, customer protection, regulatory and tax reporting, and regulatory compliance obligations.” says Harvey. 

“In addition, we are seeing regulators in key markets such as Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan, all encouraging the adoption of regtech (some regulators going as far as incentivising banks to buy regtech solutions). So now is a good time for regtechs to start building at least one Asia-Pacific market into their expansion strategy.”

 

 Ireland’s Regtech Cluster of Excellence

In outposts around the world, Enterprise Ireland is working hard on behalf of Irish businesses and its strategy with regard to regtech is to help the sector cluster in Ireland to be synonymous with excellence.

“There are a number of Irish companies already enjoying global success,” says Mo Harvey. “These include Fenergo, Vizor, Daon, MyComplianceOffice and Know Your Customer, while AQMetrics, Cerebreon, Sedicii and DX Compliance are gaining international traction. Hopefully more can follow in their footsteps.

“Marrying Europe’s position as a global leader in regulatory and compliance standards with Enterprise Ireland’s investment in innovative technology-driven companies, has provided fertile soil for Ireland to have a world-class regtech cluster and support the imminent global regtech boom.”

 

To learn more download our State of Regtech APAC report.

Why Export title

Export Journey: Step 1 – Why Export?

Why Export title - image of woman packing a box

In a post-Covid world access to international markets, buyers, distributors and information is now at the fingertips of Irish SMEs thanks to increased digitalisation.

When looking towards new markets, it is important to consider the potential benefits of exporting for your company such as;

1. Diversification of market and reduced vunerability

A well considered diversification plan can minimise a dependency on the domestic market and the potential exposure to domestic downturn.

2. Increased revenue and scale

Exporting opens channels to exponentially expand the home market and identify new markets to take advantage of globally. A larger market base delivers economies of scale, enabling you to maximise your resources.

3. Improved profitability

Your ongoing domestic operation should cover business-as-usual fixed costs, either directly or via other types of business financing, which should, in turn, facilitate a faster growth in your export profits.

4. Best practice and knowledge

Accessing global markets will provide additional benefits to an exporter, aside from increased revenues such as new ways of doing business, increased awareness of global best practice, cultural and international competitiveness, that could also bring benefits to your market offering in Ireland.

5. Domestic competitiveness

Considering your company’s export potential will increase its resilience against potential competition within the domestic market.

 

 

Assess & validate title and two women at a computer screen

Export Journey: Step 2 – Assess & Validate

Assess & Validate title and business people

Before beginning your export journey you must clearly identify your target market.  You may have preferences based on previous experience, understanding of the language or culture or simply some connection with the market, though a good starting point it’s not enough of a reason to export to this market.

Market Research will form the backbone of your export strategy as you begin to validate your plans.

The key elements for consideration are:

  • What makes your product unique
  • Who are your competitors in your selected research market?
  • Who are the buyers in that market?
  • How does your product compare in terms of pricing?
  • How is the product sold in that market?
  • What are the local regulations, certification for selling your product and can you currently comply?
  • A clear understanding as to why you have selected this market as the potential first market.

What supports are available?

If your business is at an early development stage the Local Enterprise Office has the supports to help you plan, start and grow

If you are are already supported by Enterprise Ireland you can contact your Development Advisor here.

The Market Research Centre provides access to world class research databases to help client companies make better, more informed business decisions. Contact the Market Research Centre here

Enterprise Ireland hosts events to assist companies’ growth plans – See our events calendar for details.

Our Market pages and Going Global guides provide expert insights and contact details for our overseas offices.

Learn how our Exporter Development team can support your growth.

 

 

 

Positioning Strategy title and businessman

Export Journey: Step 3 – Positioning Strategy

Positioning Strategy title and businessman

Your positioning strategy should set out what you will do to achieve a favourable perception in your new export market.

Typically companies will try to achieve the same brand positioning regardless of the market. A coherent positioning strategy can be hugely advantageous, so it’s important when reviewing the export potential of your products/goods or services to consider the following:

1. Customer profiles

  • What is your current USP and will this translate to your new foreign export markets ?
  • Do you understand your domestic customer profile? E.g. age profile, socio-economic grouping etc.
  • Are there other significant demographic patterns to your product or service’s usage?
  • Have you considered the need to modify your product/service to facilitate differences in language, culture and business environments?
  • How do you plan to deliver your services to foreign markets ? In person, via a local partner or using digital resources?

2. Market Pricing and Value Propostion

  • Consideration whether any necessary changes to make your product/service more appealing to foreign markets and customers?
  • If you’re exporting services, what makes them unique within global markets?
  • Have you benchmarked your services in a global context? Would they be considered to be world-class and stand up to stronger scrutiny?
  • Have you considered the cost implications of servicing overseas markets? Including FX rates and fluctuations?
  • Does your product have a shelf life and will this be impacted by time in transit?
  • Will your packaging have the same impact in a foreign market or can it be easily modified to satisfy new demands?
  • Are there any climatic or geographic factors that could affect the uptake of your product or service in other markets?

3. Route to Market

  • Do you need special export licensing or documentation to export? i.e. technical or regulatory requirements localised to the market?
  • Are there considerations for the safe transportation of your product to global markets ? i.e. specialized containers or packaging materials?
  • Would transportation costs make competitive pricing a problem?
  • How efficiently does your target market process incoming shipments?

4. Capacity to support

  • In the event that your domestic/export demand increases beyond current projections, will you still be able to look after both markets?
  • Will you be able to serve both your existing domestic customers and any new foreign clients?

 

5. Further considerations

  • Do you require a local presence or representation?
  • Will your products/service require local professional support or can this be done digitally?
  • Will after-sales service be required ? Can it be easily sourced locally or do you have to provide it? Does you have the resources to provide it?
  • Are there legal / IP implications to consider when entering global markets?

Once your positioning strategy is in development, it’s time to consider how to develop your export strategy and access your target market.

 

Take the next step in the Export Journey

 

Export Strategy title and port image

Export Journey: Step 4 – Developing your Export Strategy

The next step is your export plan. You may have ideas but you need to clearly communicate them in writing so that your whole team is clear on their responsibilities. Having a plan laid out makes it easier to spot pitfalls, gaps and even additional opportunities!

The export plan is also key in seeking supports in term of financing or grants.  Don’t overcomplicate it, keep it clear and simple.

The key elements of a successful export plan include:

1. The Vision

  • What you are going to do. How you are going to do it. What your expected outcome is.

2. Human Resources

  • Have you the staff, external support and expertise? Have you skills within your team to manage language and cultural differences?

3. Financial Resources

  • Budget, Sales targets and Pricing – Consider the additional costs involved in selling into the overseas market. Establish a target price for the end user, taking into consideration currency, payment terms, freight and carriage charges, import duties and taxes, commission to partners and competitors’ pricing.

4. Target Market

  • Why you have selected this market; who your buyers are.

5. Your Product

  • Your USP and how it translates internationally. Are there external factors which could impact production or sales?

6. Market Entry

  • Sales channels; marketing plan; regulations, language and local laws.

7. Monitoring and Developing the market

  • Are you meeting sales targets?

8. What’s next?

  • How do you plan to grow and scale?

Access the Market Entry Page

 

 

 

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Export Journey: Step 5 – Market Entry

Market Entry title and businesswoman image

Your next priority is for the execution of your company’s vision within new export markets. Key to this will be preparing the company for this change and subsequent increased demand from and servicing of new export markets.

Consideration for a successful market entry should include;

1.Identify and allocate adequate resources such as:

    • Financial resources i.e. cash required to sufficiently support overseas exports
    • Additional equipment or fixed assets needed to increase volume or backup global sales
    • People, including staff, suppliers or other valuable relationships in Ireland or overseas

2. Defining where your first sales will come from

Will your customers be a distributor which imports in larger quantities, or an overseas agenct or representative acting on your behalf or will it be a separate trading company of your own business?

3. Developing your lead generation strategy

Supports will need to be assigned to generate business leads. Will they be predominantly offline, online or a hybrid?

Offline: fairs, events, conferences, network meetings or

Online: website, social media, blogs etc.

You will need to qualify and validate the leads, managing them through a Customer Relationship Management (CMS) system such as Salesforce.

4. Marketing and communications

Implementing a successful marketing and communication plan is vital for sustained sales in export markets.

When developing a plan, it is important not to do a ‘copy and paste’ of the same marketing strategy from your domestic market as these are likely completely disparate territories. While it is logical that you should retain your company values and purpose, you will need to adapt your marketing and communications strategy to your new export market

5. Implementing a sales process

By implementing a sales process, you are creating a set of logical, repeatable steps that your sales team goes through to bring a potential buyer from an early stage of awareness to closing the sale. There are various stages that need to be considered in developing an effective sales process, such as;

a) How will your company cultivate your sales leads?

b) What preparation will you commit to in order to be ready to capture an overseas sale?

c) What will be your sales teams approach to a prospective buyer?

d) How will you adequately present or pitch your sales in an overseas market?

e) Is your team setup to deal with buyer objections or queries?

f) Have you experience in closing a sale in an overseas market?

g) What follow-up work will be done post buyer presentation?

6. Relationship building

Relationship building is a key factor in developing sustained sales in export markets. Any company considering to expand globally is undoubtedly looking for a return on their initial investment, and companies looking for better business returns are strongly encouraged to place an emphasis on relationship building.

Companies can quite often focus on the transactional, revenue generation portion before they consider relationship building. However, as is the case in much of the world, relationships based on mutual respect and trust outplay singular transactions. Relationships need to be worked on and require different approaches for different markets.

Take the next step in the Export Journey

Scale title and background image of modern city

Export Journey: Step 6 – Scale

Scale title and background image of modern cityYou are now successfully exporting to your first market. Now begin to build on this success and grow your exports.

You will now have built up a good relationship with the overseas market team and keeping up to date on buyer trends and external factors impacting these trends will enable you to stay competitive.

Factors to consider in your plans to scale exports:

1. Resources

Do you have the necessary resources both in terms of staff and finance to meet the demand of a new market?

2. Capacity

Do you have the manufacturing, packaging, logistics, linguistic capacity?

3. Environmental

Have you considered your carbon footprint; requirements of buyers?

4. Sustainable Growth

How will this impact your current financial standing? Will it strengthen or dilute your position in the market?

5. Adjacent Markets

Is there potential in the adjacent markets where buying patterns, pricing and local regulations may be similar?

 

How can Enterprise Ireland support your growth?

If you are are already supported by Enterprise Ireland you can contact your Development Advisor here.

The Market Research Centre provides access to world class research databases to help client companies make better, more informed business decisions. Contact the Market Research Centre here

Enterprise Ireland hosts events to assist companies’ growth plans – See our events calendar for details.

Our Market pages and Going Global guides provide expert insights and contact details for our overseas offices.

Learn how our Exporter Development team can support your growth.

graph with export data

Using market intelligence to inform your export plan

The saying that ‘knowledge is power’ is certainly true of successful exporting. Companies must understand their customers’ requirements, cultural considerations, market trends and what competitors in the market are doing, in order to succeed.

Insights gained from high-quality market research are essential for good business decisions for companies with the ambition to grow, export and, indeed, survive. While successful products and services are built on sound market research, a continual process of keeping up-to-date with business intelligence is required, which can be time-consuming and costly.

 

Market Research Centre

That is one reason Enterprise Ireland’s Market Research Centre is such a valuable resource. It is the largest repository of business intelligence in Ireland and contains thousands of world-class market research insights, available to Enterprise Ireland supported companies.

Reports include company, sector, market and country information, which help businesses to explore opportunities and compete in international markets. We use databases from blue-chip information providers such as GartnerFrost & Sullivan, Mintel and others, which provide authoritative, verified information that is independent and reliable. Some of these reports cost tens of thousands of euro individually, so the value of accessing the service is immense.

 

Using market intelligence to assess new markets

The Market Research Centre is staffed by eight information specialists who help clients locate the most appropriate sources of knowledge for their requirements. The specialists can track down niche market intelligence that is not available through internet research and can also facilitate access to industry analysts to provide bespoke briefings that deep-dive into subject areas.

While the UK and European markets remain vitally important for exporters, increasingly diversification into more distant markets is a strategic option. Critical to all such business decisions is access to authoritative market research.

 

Using insights to make an impact

An example of how the centre helps companies to explore opportunities in overseas markets is workforce travel company Roomex. Over the last two years, the company has targeted the UK and Germany and is now looking at the huge potential of the US market. Information specialists helped the company gain valuable insights by providing access to global company, country, market and sector data which helped the Roomex to analyse their target customer and competitor base.

Enterprise Ireland’s research hub offers access to extensive predictive research on future trends, which is invaluable for companies interested in innovation. Knowledge of what might impact a market next provides an opportunity to develop new products or solutions. There are huge opportunities arising from disruptive technologies, such as driver-less cars, but also risks to companies which are not looking ahead

Growing your business

Companies which are serious about exporting, growing and future-proofing their business should put continuous research at the heart of their strategy. If your company is considering expanding into new markets the Market Research Centre’s extensive resources and expertise should be your first port of call.

Contact the Market Research Centre today.

Seoul, Korea

Great opportunities on the Eastern horizon

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the EU-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which was provisionally in place since 2011 and formally ratified in 2015. And although it is a decade old, Taewon Um, Director of Korea at Enterprise Ireland, says it continues to be beneficial to Irish businesses.

“As with any free trade agreement, this one aims to further liberalise trade between South Korea and the EU by eliminating or reducing customs duties on industrial goods and agricultural products,” he says. “For example, South Korea’s average tariff rate was 8% but the FTA removed all tariffs on industrial goods heading into South Korea within the first five years of its implementation.

“Fundamentally, the FTA has made it easier and better for Irish and European businesses trading in South Korea. This means Irish exporters under the FTA won’t need to pay the customs duties, which vary depending on items and products gaining a price advantage or cost benefit.” says Um.

 

Supporting Irish business

The Korean market is the fourth largest in Asia, so it has great potential for Irish firms – and the area director says one of his main remits is to help Irish businesses to gain a footing in this market and also to support existing companies in scaling their exports.

“I provide market research and advisory support to help formulate market entry and scale strategy,” he says. “I also make introductions to Korean buyers and partners and introduce innovative Irish solutions and capabilities to potential Korean partners and stakeholders.

“Since its onset, the FTA has been very beneficial in making this happen as it also addresses non-trade barriers (NTBs) in key sectors such as pharmaceuticals, medical devices, automotive and more. This makes it easier for businesses to comply with the regulatory elements by recognising the other party’s standards or waiving certain regulatory or certification burdens.

 

Common traits

“In fact, a report by Copenhagen Economics finds that the EU-South Korea FTA had already resulted in an increase of €273m or 31% in Irish exports to South Korea in 2015.”

But the market expert says it is important to note that the agreement doesn’t provide all the intended benefits automatically, so he would advise Irish businesses to attain approved exporter status and analyse how best it can use the FTA to save costs and minimise administrative burdens.

He says the Irish businesses doing well in the Korean market all seem to have the same ethos.

“They tend to share certain commonalities in that they are all highly innovative and have industry-leading technologies or solutions which fit the market, have trusted in-market partners, and put resources on the ground to serve customers and partners,” says Um.

“South Korea has strong ambitions to lead the biopharma industry, and Ireland’s expertise in this sector is widely recognised and highly regarded. Also, Ireland is South Korea’s sixth largest source of medical devices – and as digital health is an area where South Korea wishes to develop, Ireland can add strong value given its strong position and expertise in both this area and in innovative biotech.”

 

Cross sectoral opportunities

The digital technology sector is another area where Ireland has strong potential in Korea as AR, VR, IoT-enabled solutions, system chips for sensors, as well as data processing tech, are actively sought after by Korean businesses – and both fintech and RegTech are also presenting good opportunities for Irish firms.

Looking ahead, agri-machinery and agri-tech seem likely to be areas with strong future potential as the South Korean government has been working to increase agricultural productivity, and Irish Agri-machinery is well recognised and received by consumers in the Asian country. In fact, the government’s push for smart farming is also in line with Ireland’s agri-tech offering.

 

Irish companies successfully trading

According to the area director, the Irish companies doing well in Korea at the moment, include Novaerus, Kastus, Ding, InnaLabs and Skillsoft – and he believes that there is an Irish advantage which should be considered in the context of local markets as each market has comparative advantages and disadvantages.

“Overall, the Irish businesses which are doing well in Korea, invest time and resources and visit their partners and customers regularly,” he advises. “Obviously, travel has been difficult due to Covid-19, but in-person meetings and connections are still very important when it comes to building trust and relationships here. And although there is more acceptance among Korean businesses for initial virtual engagement than there may have been pre-Covid-19, this cannot replace the fundamental importance of in-person interaction.

“However, going forward, I am hopeful that once the world opens up fully, there will be plenty of opportunities for Irish businesses in Korea.”

 

Doing Business in South Korea webinar

Enterprise Ireland aims to boost the number of Irish businesses benefiting from the free trade agreements with these countries and recently hosted a webinar on Doing Business in South Korea.

The webinar brought together experts on the topic to provide knowledge and insights on key elements of the FTA, and to enable Irish businesses to make use of the FTA to its fullest in doing business in South Korea.

Register to watch the on-demand Doing Business in South Korea webinar.

fintech

Mexican market ripe for Irish fintech firms seeking to expand

With an underbanked population and skyrocketing use of mobile tech, Mexico offers an open door to growth for Irish financial technology firms seeking new opportunities in the global market. This is a market with a real need for innovative financial services.

“Mexico is in the early stages of a financial technology (or fintech) revolution, with start-ups focusing particularly on flexible, low-cost, accessible services,” says Sara Hill, SVP Southern US and Mexico at Enterprise Ireland. “It is the Latin American hub for the sector and local start-ups flourishing in the wake of local pioneers such as Kubo, Financiero and Conekta, all peer-to-peer payments firms which first emerged in 2011.”

Partly driven by the same social distancing regulations and decrease in the use of cash seen everywhere because of the pandemic, use of mobile banking is soaring in Mexico, up 113 per cent between 2018 and 2020.

 

Lending and payments lead the way

Across the board, the financial services market in the country remains underserved, but local consumers and businesses are keen to see new services in this area and new financial companies don’t have to compete with legacy institutions as much as they might have to elsewhere.

“Only 47% of the population in Mexico has a bank account,” explains Sara. “That’s why we’re seeing lending and payments as the top two areas in which fintech start-ups are operating. There continues to be huge demand and extensive room for growth in this area.”

Start-ups are also active in Mexico in categories such as blockchain, crowdfunding, cryptocurrencies, digital banking, enterprise financial management, personal financial management, remittances and foreign exchange, scoring, identity and fraud, and wealth management.

“In the Austin, Texas office of Enterprise Ireland, we not only support Irish businesses seeking to break into nine southern states of the US, but also those who want to enter the Mexican market,” says Sara. “We help them evaluate the opportunity there for their business and also offer in-market support such as introductions to buyers, partners and decision-makers.”

 

Irish businesses soaring in Mexico

Fintech businesses in Ireland considering this step will be in good company, with Irish tech firms already thriving in Mexico including Workhuman, Adaptive Mobile and Daon.

Other Irish businesses also active in Mexico include Ornua (Kerrygold’s parent company), mobile recharge provider Ding, forklift firm Combilift, food packaging manufacturer Fispak, GM Steel Fabricators, and pharmaceutical engineering firm Prodieco. Overall in 2019, Irish exports to Mexico were worth €83m, up 36 per cent on the previous year.

 

A growing market for fintech

When it comes to fintech, Mexico is currently ranked 30th in the Global Fintech Ranking, with Brazil ranking 19. Mexico has over twice as many adults that use digital banking, however, compared with Brazil, Colombia and Argentina.

The Mexican fintech is worth 68.4 billion pesos (around €2.8 billion), with about 4.7 million users out of a total population of 127.6 million. For context, the global fintech market was valued at US$127.66 billion (€105.9 billion) in 2018, with expected growth of 24.8% by the end of 2022.

 

Understanding market challenges

Rapidly developing markets like this one undoubtedly present challenges to potential new entrants. With a troubled history of corruption in the past, some lingering distrust of financial institutions remains, but the introduction of a stringent fintech law in 2018 has helped.

 

“This law regulates which financial entities are legally allowed to operate and offer financial services in Mexico,” explains Sara. “So you have to make sure that your business is going to meet the criteria. The law was introduced to protect users and consumers, to prevent money laundering and to help foster an environment of trust.”

Geography can also be a challenge for companies expanding in Mexico, with many rural areas having no banks or ATMs, meaning people are less likely to have bank accounts. While this presents a great opportunity for digital payments, internet and mobile service can be poor in some locations. As a result, fintech firms tend to be based in urban areas, with more than half of the 700 or so start-ups in the sector based in Mexico City.

Other factors inhibiting financial inclusion in Mexico include income, education and even gender. That gender gap should close quickly, however, as men and women are equally likely to use mobile tech and social media.

 

Building lasting relationships

When it comes to exporting, understanding the nuance of any new market is vital. Firms must remember to localise products and messaging properly, for example, as Mexican Spanish is different to that spoken in Spain.

On-the-ground agents or partners are also crucial when it comes to navigating the local business environment and building customer relationships.

“People in Mexico want to do business with those they know and trust,” says Sara. “You’ll need to make multiple visits to build relationships or to have a strong partner on the ground who can represent your business.”

For Irish fintech firms seeking to expand overseas, Mexico undoubtedly presents a real opportunity to build a user base quickly in a rapidly developing and dynamic market.

Get advice and insight into local market conditions and practices in Enterprise Ireland’s Exporting to Mexico guide.

 

2021 virtual trade mission – Reaching a global audience

In the not-too-distant past, companies wishing to establish a successful business relationship with firms overseas, would have relied heavily on international travel and perhaps an office or ‘boots-on-the-ground’ in the country in question.

But these days, there is also another option as there are many international companies located across Ireland who are more than willing to do business with local businesses – and Gerard, Fenner, Senior Executive of Global Sourcing for Enterprise Ireland, says his team can help to bring Irish SMEs and multinational firms together.

“The combination of modern technology and accessible travel has made the world a much smaller place and opened up a myriad of global opportunities for Irish businesses,” he says.

 

Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland collaboration

“But travelling to or even selling out of this country isn’t the only means for companies at home to expand into the international market as there are hundreds of multinationals right here in Ireland, which are willing and able to engage with indigenous firms. Since its formation in 2012, the Enterprise Ireland Global Sourcing team has been working with colleagues in IDA Ireland to introduce Irish owned businesses to international firms to respond to their specific requirements.

“Working with companies across every sector, including pharma, medtech, ICT, engineering, financial services and energy, our team helps to develop relationships between Irish companies who are seeking to sell their product or service and multinational firms who wish to purchase same – so our particular focus is on providing sales opportunities and partnerships between Enterprise Ireland client companies and Ireland-based multinationals, predominantly IDA firms.”

According to Fenner, there are many benefits to both the seller and the buyer in these business relationships and apart from supporting industry at home, it can also lead to opportunities in export markets – and winning a contract with a multinational gives a scaling Irish company a valuable reference site for its move into export markets.

“We have found that one of the most productive means of securing relationships between Irish firms and multinationals based here is by means of events where introductions can be made, and sellers can have pre-arranged face to face meetings with potential buyers,” he says.

 

Developing international relationships

“In 2014 we organised the first Trade Mission in Ireland. The event was minister led and took place in various regional locations across the country over the course of a couple of days – and since then, it has taken place every year, apart from 2020, due to lockdown restrictions. It has always garnered a lot of interest and helped to develop contracts and future relationships.”

So it seems that trade missions have long been an effective means of introducing businesses to prospective clients, but since the onset of the pandemic, industry across every sector has had to pivot online and learn how to do business in a virtual world.

 

Online introductions and meetings

As current guidelines continue to prevent physical events of this nature taking place, this year, on May 12th, the first ever virtual Global Sourcing Trade Mission became the alternative.

Launched by the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar, the event proved as popular as ever with 65 multinationals and 240 Irish companies registered with over 350 meetings. And according to Gerard Fenner, the online system was popular with both the variety of different international firms and indigenous companies looking to set up new business relationships.

“When the Enterprise Ireland companies registered on the event platform, they provided some company information about what they do and what their offer is, and this allowed suppliers to search through this information and put in a request for a meeting,” says the international trade expert. “Similarly, the supplier was also able to request a meeting with a buyer in order to pitch a product or service.

“Although these 15-minute meeting slots were different to how things normally work at a physical trade mission, it proved to be very successful with feedback from both sides indicating their positivity – and early signs show the possibility of new business relationships and further revenue to add to the €32 million in contracts which have been secured from these trade missions.”

The Global Sourcing Team lead says there was also the added positive bonus of no travel, which meant that the multinational could bring in individuals from different areas of their business to meet potential suppliers – so rather than just one representative attending the event, firms could bring in someone from finance or with technical expertise to liaise directly with companies pitching a particular service.

“Overall it was a great success and we have run smaller online events similar to this over the past year and many multinational firms have come back to us to say they were impressed with the fact that they got to meet so many different businesses,” he says.

“So, the trade mission, whether it takes place at a venue or online, is an important platform for raising awareness about the capabilities of innovative Irish SMEs and helping them to establish future business relationships. And given the interest in this year’s event, despite the difficulties surrounding the current global situation, the future looks bright.”

Webinar Series: Free Trade Agreements

EU Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Canada, Japan, Mexico and South Korea enable Ireland to increase its trade, GDP and national income. The FTAs allow Irish exporters to explore new opportunities as market access increases and they benefit from competitive advantage in doing business in these countries.

Join Enterprise Ireland as it hosts a webinar series on Free Trade Agreements and doing business in these four export markets: Canada, Japan, Mexico and South Korea.

Each webinar will be opened by Robert Troy TD, Minister of State Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment with responsibility for Trade Promotion. The webinars feature contributions from market experts and guest speakers from Irish companies who will share their experiences on doing business in specific markets.

If you’re considering exporting to these markets, or scaling your existing export business, these webinars are for you.

Click on the links below to register for upcoming webinars.

Doing Business in Japan

Thursday, 17 June 2021, 9am BST

The EU Japan Economic Partnership Agreement provides a positive backdrop to Ireland Japan trading relations. This webinar will explore the experiences of key Irish business interests in Japan, and will outline the knowledge, networks and access supports available to capitalise on what is an increasingly important market for ambitious Irish exporters.

For the full agenda and to register, click here.

 

Doing Business in Mexico

Tuesday, 22 June 2021, 3pm BST

With duty-free trade on most goods and a simplification of the customs procedures, the latest 2018 EU-Mexico trade agreement has improved the already positive and prosperous relationship between Ireland and Mexico. This webinar features two market experts who will highlight opportunities and explain business culture and processes, as well as providing practical guidance for market entry.

For the full agenda and to register, click here.

 

Doing Business in South Korea

Thursday, 24 June 2021, 9am BST

The EU-South Korea FTA can provide enhanced business opportunities for Irish businesses. This webinar brings together experts on the topic to provide knowledge and insights on key elements of the FTA, and to enable Irish businesses to make use of the FTA to its fullest in doing business in South Korea.

For the full agenda and to register, click here.

Doing Business in Canada


Tuesday, 25 May 2021, 3pm BST

Attendees will learn more about the opportunities available in the Greater Montreal region, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and Europe, and what incentives are available to Irish companies looking to expand in North America.

Watch back on-demand, available here.