Ireland’s businesspeople have been encouraged to look to Austria as a potential source of growth, as Irish trade with Austria was up 13.8pc last year, to €1.49bn.
About 2,000 Austrian companies do business with Ireland on a regular basis, and Advantage Austria Dublin – the Irish branch of the Austrian trade promotion group – deals with 500 of them a year.
“Sales is the number one thing for Irish companies in the Austrian market,” Enterprise Ireland Austria head Eddie Goodwin said yesterday.
“One of the largest overall sectors for us would be the industrial, which includes a lot of sectors such as engineering, electronics, live sciences and cleantech. That, for example, grew 35pc for us in Austria last year alone,” he added.
Mr Goodwin was speaking at the Irish-Austrian Business Forum, which took place in Dublin yesterday, with representatives from 40 Austrian companies present. The forum coincided with the visit to Ireland of Austrian President Heinz Fischer, who was the guest of honour at yesterday’s event.
“Reports about Ireland nowadays are very good, and our intensive cooperation will further improve,” President Fischer said.
“Ireland and Austria, if we have a closer look, have much in common. At a political level our countries are among the medium states in the European Union, we both don’t belong to Nato, we value our neutrality,” he added.
“Austrian companies are well-known for their high-quality products and services. Most are small and medium-sized enterprises, yet many of them are world leaders in their special markets.”
Well-known Austrian companies include energy drinks manufacturer Red Bull and construction company Strabag.
Strabag helped to build the Limerick tunnel that passes under the River Shannon,
Some 20 Austrian companies have offices in Ireland, working mainly in construction, renewable energy and electronics.
Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan told the forum that the Government is “determined to increase the number of Irish firms doing business in Austria”.
Enterprise Ireland chief executive Julie Sinnamon said that Ireland can only create jobs through sustainable export growth.
“[Austria] is a strong market and one which we certainly value and can see that there’s further prospects to grow,” she added.
“The particular sectors that are really doing very well in Austria are very much niche products, where people have very innovative products and services.”
Most of Austria’s trading is done with Germany. In 2012, it exported goods worth almost $48bn (€38bn) to Germany, and imported German goods worth $62bn (€49bn).
Austria’s second biggest trading partners are Switzerland and Italy.