A trade delegation of 18 companies from Northern Ireland's major business and education sector visited Jeddah with the aim to boost bilateral trade relationship.
Their visit was organized by Invest Northern Ireland to have a one-to-one meeting with Saudi partners during a networking reception at the British Consulate General, Jeddah on Sunday.
The head of the delegation, Barry Mcbride told Arab news that some of the visiting medical companies were involved in nursing care and diagnostic lab equipment. Some others represented food, herbal products, cathode lighting, fluorescent lamps, and management and leadership courses.
“Saudi market is a very important one for us. This is a very successful market for us, so most of the companies with us have their business and business partners over here,” said Barry Mcbride.
“Northern Ireland is famous for its healthy food products, so this time we are exploring the food market in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
Northern Ireland food products are not cheap but they represent quality and safety, as because of good weather and healthy animals its food products have higher meat content and lower fat content, and vegetables and fruits are very healthy and extremely tasty, he said.
“It may be cost-sensitive but we are certainly not going for cheaper food,” he added.
He also said that they are planning to send meat products and then vegetables, aside from grains, oats and porridges for long life shelves.
"Our plan is to export varieties of vegetables and grains," he said. “We are satisfied with the Saudi market. Over the last five years, we doubled our business with Saudi Arabia. With our companies forging sound partnerships with their Saudi counterparts, we hope to further double our trade in the future,” he said “We find it very easy to do our business with Saudi partners,” he added.
A recent survey by the UK government shows that food products from Northern Ireland are healthy and safe.
“In terms of investment there is scope for further building up relationship in the education sector bilaterally as there is already cooperation at college and university levels.
There are many ongoing projects between the two countries, including the Saudi metro project in Makkah and Jeddah, which is being handled by a British company.
Noel Johnston from invest NI’s Middle East and Asia trade team, said that business done by Northern Ireland reached almost 120 million pounds in 2013. Food products will be among the major products to be exported to the Kingdom.
British Consul Gen.l Mohammed Shaukat said Northern Ireland's business with the Kingdom had been making strides during the promotion by the British consulate in the past two years. "Northern Ireland has some real potential.
I am very glad they are here and we are able to host it. This networking meeting shows what Northern Ireland as part of the UK has to offer," he added.