Derry exporters, who will be particularly vulnerable to trade tariffs if Theresa May mismanages her proposed Brexit from the European Single Market, had an opportunity to explore wider trading opportunities when they met the Australian High Commissioner last week.
Director of Business and Culture at Derry City and Strabane District Council, Stephen Gillespie, said the meeting, with Alexander Downer, came at an opportune time given the UK’s impending withdrawal from the European Union.
“This was a useful meeting for the local business representatives, some of whom have existing business interests in Australia,” he noted.
“Our unique situation as a highly populated border region means the potential local implications of Brexit are more complex and it is therefore important for local businesses to explore all their trading options.
“The Commissioner gave an insight into possible trading opportunities in Australia which will allow local business leaders to effectively explore and plan for the future.”
Asia and Oceania, which includes Australia, was the biggest market for exporters from the North last year, excluding the European Union (54.3 per cent in quarters one to three) and North America (26.5 per cent in the same period). Asia and Oceania accounted for 8.7 per cent of all exports.
Agriculture solutions specialists Finrone Systems, agricultural equipment manufacturers Fleming Agri, sportswear brand O’Neills and Dupont were among those who met the Commissioner.
Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Sinead McLaughlin said: “Despite the geographical distance between our areas, Australia has significant trading opportunities for businesses in our region to explore.
“O’Neill’s Sportswear have had a successful sales office in Adelaide for almost two years now and Australia’s vast agricultural sector means there are a range of opportunities for local businesses like Finrone Systems and Fleming Agri.
“Our local economy currently benefits from the free movement of goods and people between the UK and Ireland but any change to that arrangement would have a detrimental effect on the local economy.”