Time to capitalise at home and abroad
The success of a Dundonald firm in brokering guitar sales worth £400,000 to Brazil demonstrates two important things about business – a good product or service will always attract customers, but companies have to go out into the world to promote their business.
IBC trading fulfils both criteria, especially in making itself known to the huge emerging markets of Brazil and China by taking part in trade missions to those countries.
While China and Brazil only account for a fraction of exports from Northern Ireland – the Republic is our biggest marketplace – sales to these countries are increasing rapidly, albeit from a low base.
That is why the current visit of Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness to China is important. They will make diplomatic and trade contacts at first hand, promoting Northern Ireland in a crowded sales arena.
There has been criticism of the amount spent by Stormont ministers on overseas trips and on the size of their entourages, but, as a rule of thumb, if they do not go abroad with a sales pitch, then other countries will be delighted to fill the void.
The world is now a global village and Northern Ireland has to sell itself as a region which can provide high-value products and services.
It will never compete on price with low-wage economies, but it can on quality and value.
Another great sales opportunity will take place next month when the G8 summit is held in Fermanagh.
It involves the leaders of some of the world's richest countries who will be able to see at first hand some of the things Northern Ireland has to offer.
It will also contribute to the local economy just by the numbers of politicians and officials attending and the huge media circus which follows them.
Northern Ireland is a country which has made headlines around the world many times for the wrong reasons. Now it has the opportunity to sing its own praises.