SMEs look at export opportunities during Europeans' visit

DfE permanent secretary Noel Lavery and economic strategy director Diarmuid McLean with Miren Ausín Lecuna, lead partner for the Inside Out EU from Novarre region of Spain. Photo: Aaron McCracken

DELEGATES from a number of European countries including Italy, Sweden, Hungary and Norway have been welcomed to Belfast as part of a two day visit aimed at helping businesses in the north to explore export markets now and post-Brexit.

The visit comes as part of the Department for the Economy's involvement in a partnership project as one of eight European organisations looking to address the barriers small businesses face when deciding to trade internationally and improve existing support programmes.

The project is part of a €1.47million ‘Inside Out EU' programme funded by Interreg Europe and the European Regional Development Fund.

Representatives include the Government of Navarre, Spain, as lead partner, the Province of Overijssel, Netherlands, Hedmark County Council, Norway, Varmland County Administrative Board and Karlstad University, Sweden, Basilicata Region, Italy and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Hajdú-Bihar County, Hungary.

Noel Lavery, permanent secretary at the DfE, said: “Supporting SMEs to explore export markets and develop international business opportunities is one of the key commitments within our draft industrial strategy.

“To drive economic growth, we need to ensure that we create the right conditions for our new and existing indigenous businesses to grow and prosper.

"Inside Out EU provides a valuable opportunity to learn from other regions, helping to actively develop networks and explore issues such as barriers to exports which could influence future support policies for SMEs."

He added: “This two day visit by the delegates is an invaluable opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland, our local businesses and entrepreneurship as well as enhance our regional and international partnerships.”

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