“Canada and Ireland make good business partners” – Canadian Ambassador to Ireland tells Shannon Chamber members

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FRESH from presenting her credentials to President Michael D. Higgins and taking up her position as Canadian Ambassador to Ireland, Ambassador Nancy Smyth officially opened a recent Shannon Chamber webinar focused on exploring new avenues for increasing the trade links between companies in the Shannon region and Canada, particularly in the industrial and manufacturing sectors.

Speakers at the webinar included Tom Kelly, divisional manager with Enterprise Ireland, Gillian Sheldon, director investment partnerships with NGen Canada and Sean Ganley, chief sales officer with Shannon-based Tekelek

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Opening the event, Ambassador Smyth said: “Ireland and Canada are very like-minded countries. We have a strong trading relationship; we make good business partners and it is easy to collaborate. The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada, which came provisionally into effect in September 2017, has led to a 45% increase in bilateral trade, which is very promising.

“A new focus on advancing Canada’s manufacturing sector to adapt to new economic drivers such as climate change and digital transformation will generate new opportunities for developing business linkages between Ireland and Canada’s five super clusters. I look forward to facilitating increased dialogue between our two nations to generate increased trade in these trying times for business globally,” Ambassador Smyth added.

Responding to the Ambassador, Shannon Chamber CEO Helen Downes said: “When you consider that Canada is Ireland’s seventh largest trading partner outside the EU and that the Irish are the seventh largest EU direct investors in Canada, there have be many untapped business opportunities.”

Enterprise Ireland’s Tom Kelly concurred that hugely important benefits have been gained from CETA and stated that the organisation is focused on strengthening and diversifying the enterprise base in Ireland, not just through offering financial support but through supporting companies in a very active way.

“Management capability and leadership underpin the development of companies and a key focus of our organisation is to strengthen the core of a company. Despite the challenges of the past year, management capability has shone through and the resilience displayed is testimony to the increasing competitiveness of our client base.”

Enterprise Ireland has two offices in Canada, in Toronto and Montreal, and has 6 market advisors to assist companies doing business with Canada.

Joining virtually from Canada was Gillian Sheldon, Director of Investment Partnerships with NGen, an industry led, non-profit organisation leading Canada’s Manufacturing Supercluster. Canada’s Superclusters are areas of intense business activity consisting of companies, academic institutions and not-for-profit organisations working together to boost innovation and growth across five industry clusters in Ocean, Protein Industries, Scale AI, Digital Technology and Advanced Manufacturing.

Gillian Sheldon shared insights into NGen and gave context to the contribution manufacturing makes to the Canadian economy.

“Manufacturing in Canada contributes CAD$173 billion to GDP, almost 11% of the Canadian economy and employs 1.7million Canadians. Our goal in NGen is to add at least CAD$13.5 billion and 13,500 new jobs to Canada’s economy by 2030. Linkages with Shannon and Ireland, through sharing and exchange of expertise and collaboration at many levels, will enable us to attain this goal,” she added.

Tekelek Shannon, a world leader in the design and manufacture of sensor solutions and components across a vast range of industries, has been doing business with Canada since 2012. Chief sales officer Sean Ganley outlined the benefits of doing business with Canada.

“From our perspective, Canada has an entrepreneurial Internet of Things (IoT) sector, from start-ups to large companies, who are eager to innovate and compete. We have experienced shorter sales cycles in Canada than in any other market, which is linked to rapid decision making. The Irish have a good rapport with Canadians and trading with Canada from an Irish company’s perspective is enhanced by the superb, proactive support from Enterprise Ireland’s offices and their market advisors in Canada.”

Speaking after the event, Shannon Chamber CEO Helen Downes said: “While we did not get the rich networking that would have emanated from hosting an event of this nature in a live environment, attendees’ interest in exploring new opportunities has been very positive and we look forward to expanding on our linkages with the Canadian Embassy and Ambassador Smyth, and Enterprise Ireland to host further events of this nature in the future to help boost trade and develop linkages between Canada and Shannon.”