Northern Ireland's exporters buoyed as Australia urges 'strong' trade deal
A strong and open trade deal with Australia following Brexit will help boost sales for some of Northern Ireland's biggest exporters to the region, it has been claimed.
Firms are breathing a sigh of relief after Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he wants a "very strong" and "early" trade relationship with the UK following Brexit.
A number of Northern Ireland's manufacturing firms - including heavy machinery and the food sector - currently export to Australia.
Mr Turnbull was speaking following a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May at the G20 summit in China.
Terry Ashby, regional director of CDE in Australia, said the company - which produces industrial material washing machines and is based in Cookstown - has been trading with the country for a decade.
"We've been working in Australia for 10 years and have built up a portfolio of clients, including some of the largest construction materials producers, mining companies and recycling companies," he said.
"It's a market that we hope to continue to develop over the coming years and we have recently been growing our team in the region to help us achieve this.
"The news that Australia will sign a very strong and very open trade deal with Britain post-Brexit will certainly support our plans for the future.
"Some of our notable projects in Australia include a turnkey plant producing glass sands for use in the world's largest wine bottle manufacturing plant in Adelaide."
Dr Hugh Cormican, founder of medical imaging firm Cirdan, said the company "welcomes the warm response from the Australia government to having closer and stronger ties for business to the UK".
"Cirdan currently exports 25% of our turnover to Australia and we find it a very good place to do business," he said.
"They have a very similar regulatory framework, which is very important for a company such as ourselves selling medical devices.
"There are also less cultural and language barriers than selling to Europe. We were just there in June on a trade mission with Invest NI and we have been surprised by the interest.
"We are anticipating significantly expanding our business there in the coming years.
"We would recommend to all Northern Ireland businesses interested in exporting to have a closer look at the market in Australia."
And Craig McCoo, managing director of ship fit-out firm Blu Marine, said: "We have exported our services and skills to Australia for a number of years now and it has always been a positive experience. We hope to maintain our links down under for many years to come."
Another firm which sells into Australia is Belfast dairy business Greenfields Ireland, which is hoping to grow its links there further.