Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Chance to put our exports on the map

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has made no bones about the strong relationship Northern Ireland has been building up with, of all places, Kurdistan.

The minister has been out to the Middle-Eastern region, met the President and even opened up a new Invest NI office last year in Erbil, in an effort to get us trading with a region which few people could pick out on a map.

Such anonymity in the west might not be a bad thing given the more well-known export homes such as the US, China and mainland Europe are already pretty crowded market places.

By targeting countries which don't get visited much by exporters then the chances are we'll get a better reception.

And that might be the case in Ukraine.

If you do happen to pick up a map to find out where Kurdistan is then a quick look at the other side of the Black Sea (a region which is considered to be the bread basket of eastern European in light of the huge amounts of grain produced there) will bring you to the former Soviet Republic.

Comparing it to Kurdistan is not fair, because Ukraine is huge, with GDP of £218bn and a population of 22 million.

That gives us an awful lot to go at and although yesterday's visit by the UK Ambassador to the Ukraine was probably more focused on what the region can do for us, there are a still big possibilities for export.

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