In this week’s column, Kehlan looks at the best countries to export to and why you should be looking at them to grow your business

Over the past number of years Irish SMEs have learnt the Irish market simply isn’t big enough to rely on for growth.

Mentions of the US and China come as standard, but here are some other countries which are worth a look for business expansion.

South Korea:

Often overlooked because of its larger neighbours of China, Russia and Japan, but South Korea offers a great alternative to the business looking to reach the Asian market. It is the 12th richest country in the world and imported well over €400bn worth of products in 2013. It bodes well for Ireland that its fastest growing imports are food and dairy products, while electronics and machinery remain inside the top three largest imported products.

It is a country which has high consumer spending power, particularly for technology.


In recent years Chile has opened its doors to foreign business with real intent. It is the fifth richest country in South America.

The World Economic Forum described it as “a strong institutional set-up with low levels of corruption and an efficient government, solid macroeconomic stability with a balanced public budget and low levels of public debt, as well as high levels of domestic competition and openness to foreign trade”.

Some of its fastest growing imports in 2013 were alcohol, dairy, seafood and vegetable products.


Like South Korea, the neighbours of Belgium often seem to overshadow it. It’s easy to see why when the Netherlands, Germany and France are in close proximity. However, a high level of education and business schools has meant a high understanding of business. Pharmaceuticals and cars are inside its top five imports, while manufactured products, cereals and fertilisers are among the fastest growing imports.

United Arab Emirates (UAE):

The UAE and other Middle Eastern countries have been found to be great areas for Irish products in recent years.

The UAE, in particular, has made strides towards reforms within its country which have made it more appealing to investors from the outside.

Progress in the economy and infrastructure keeps it attractive for business. Ireland already accounts for nearly €400m of imports into the country.

The average income is just over €50,000. Computers and jewellery along with broadcasting and satellite technology count inside the top imports for the country.


This small city state at the foot of Malaysia has found itself inside the top 10 global competitive economies for what seems like decades.

It is the 40th richest country in the world and, because of its size, the 15th largest importer globally.

Imports account for over €200bn; with electronics, medical equipment and machinery inside its top five imports. Alcohol, vegetable products and cosmetics were among its fastest growing imports in 2013.

These are simple guidelines and as such should not be taken as gospel. Always do your research when planning to export.

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