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The strong export ties between the United Kingdom and Ireland have been a major economic driver for both countries. Not  only is the United Kingdom  one of the biggest export partners of Ireland – buying a total of €15 billion worth of goods in 2016  plus 50% of the country’s exported beef and 42% of its food and drink – but UK is Ireland’s only land border in EU, and vice versa. In fact, some 80% of the Irish road freight that reaches mainland Europe passes through the UK.

Those factors alone make UK-Irish trade a unique relationship. However, looming Brexit looming, there are critical border issues and challenges that are expected to disrupt this trading relationship and force Irish exporters to rethink their supply chain operations.

Yet, despite the potential supply chain upheaval Brexit could cause, a large majority of Irish export companies are yet to develop mitigation strategies.  According to reports, two-thirds of Irish exporters are still unprepared for the impending withdrawal of the UK from EU and have not put any countermeasures in place to mitigate Brexit risks. Of these companies, 23% said the lack of information on alternative markets to the UK as the main obstacle to identifying and establishing a foothold in new markets.

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Global Trade in Fresh Produce – Challenges and Trends.
The global fresh produce market has been growing steadily. In 2016, market research provider Euromonitor International reported that the global demand for fresh food increased by nearly 3% over global demand in 2015. This was in line with Compound Annual Growth Rate of 3% achieved over the 2011-2016 review period.

The growth of this market is also supported by a separate report from Wiseguyreports.com, which forecasts that the global fresh produce market will grow at a CAGR of 3.01% from 2017 to 2021.

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Croatia’s economy has been growing steadily over the past years. In 2015, GDP had expanded modestly at 1.6% YoY, marking the end of one of the longest and deepest recessions in the EU. The recovery accelerated in 2016, at a projected rate of 2.8% — and unexpectedly grew by 3.2% at the end of the year. In the first three quarters of 2017, the Croatian economy rose about 3% on average, which indicated that its economy is gaining traction towards 2018.

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International trade is a critical economic tool that many countries – including small nations – participate to boost and support their economy. In fact, some small countries take part so much in international trade that the combined value of all their imports and exports exceeds their entire Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Take Hong Kong for example, which current trade volume stands at 400% of its GDP.  With limited agricultural land and scarce natural resources, Hong Kong chose to specialise its manufacturing and exports in technology and relies heavily on imports of goods. According to a recent report, Hong Kong’s economy expanded by 3.8% year-on-year in real terms in 2017, after growing by 2.1% in 2016. The government also forecasts Hong Kong’s economy to grow by 3-4% in 2018.

Another example is Ireland. Over the years, Ireland has established itself as one of the export leaders in the world, which has helped the country bring in billions every year. Among the most in-demand goods are medical equipment, organic chemicals, meat, aircraft, cereal preparations, pharmaceuticals, and perfumes. The imports that help contribute to Ireland’s impressive trade volume include vehicles, oil, machinery, plastics, and paper.

These cases only prove that small countries can take part in international trade to develop overseas markets and overcome the challenges in today’s global economy. Read on as we detail in this post about some of the hottest trade opportunities that small countries can profit from the global market.


  • Nominal GDP: US$ 1.796 trillion (2016 est.)
  • Nominal GDP Per Capita: US$ 8,649.95 (2016 est.)
  • Capital: Brasília
  • Total Imports: US$ 151.9 billion
  • Promising Markets: Machinery, electrical and transport equipment, chemical products, oil, automotive parts, electronics.

As mentioned in our previous post, Brazil offers excellent opportunities in just about any area. A country that thrives in agriculture, IT, infrastructure, and tourism, Brazil has the largest population in South America, and its GDP grew by 2.2% in 2017 compared to previous year.

The top trading partners of Brazil are US and China, but it does not mean that smaller countries can’t trade with this nation. In fact, Brazil’s total import value from Iceland in 2016 is $15.6 million – which is quite impressive for a nation with a population of just over 300,000. Other smaller countries that trade with Brazil are Malta, Bangladesh, Macau, Greece, Luxembourg, and Serbia.


  • Nominal GDP: US$ 1.205 trillion (2016 est.)
  • Nominal GDP Per Capita: US$ 49,927.82 (2016 est.)
  • Capital: Canberra
  • Total Imports: US$ 215.4 billion
  • Promising Markets: Machinery and transport equipment, computers and office machines, telecommunication equipment and parts; crude oil and petroleum products

Australia has an open economy and has relied upon foreign investment to build large-scale, capital-intensive industries over the past decades. Practically, all foreign direct investments are approved by the government, and screens only a small minority of investments over certain thresholds or in a handful of sensitive factors.

As a result, Australia has performed very well in attracting foreign investment. Like Brazil, Australia also imports goods from smaller countries such as Macau, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Christmas Island, Dominican Republic, and the Republic of Congo.


  • Nominal GDP: US$ 2.264 trillion (2016 est.)
  • Nominal GDP Per Capita: US$ 1,709.39 (2016 est.)
  • Capital: New Delhi
  • Total Imports: US$ 426.8 billion
  • Promising Markets: Education services, industrial textiles, food processing and cold storage equipment, electronics, and clean energy and pollution control equipment.

India is an emerging market with a big appetite for imported goods and services. A young population with a median age of 25, India has a middle class that is estimated to increase tenfold by 2025. Nepal is one of the relatively small countries that exports to India and have exported goods worth US$ 561 million to the subcontinent in 2016. African countries such as Mauritania, Chad and Burkina Faso also export to this country, as well as European nations such as Serbia, Latvia, and the Slovak Republic.


  • Nominal GDP: US$ 101.4 billion (2016 est.)
  • Nominal GDP Per Capita: US$ 2,832.43 (2016 est.)
  • Capital: Rabat
  • Total Imports: US$ 39.64 billion
  • Promising Markets: Renewable energy, water treatment, building construction and safety and security equipment.

Morocco was the first African country to reach a trade agreement with the U.S. and is becoming an essential player in the North African market. In 2018, its economy is projected to grow 3.1%.

Its proximity and relatively low labour costs have made it attractive to small European countries, which use it as a hub for their African sales and operations. Some of the small nations that exports to Morocco are Luxembourg, Trinidad and Tobago, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Jordan.

Exporters from developing and smaller countries that are planning to enter developed markets should keep a keen eye on the established competition and may need particularly aggressive marketing and efficient logistics operations to persuade competitor’s customers to switch. By learning the lay of the land, choosing markets and partners with care, creating tailored strategies, and monitoring the competition continuously, exporters from small countries can gain substantial benefits from the markets above efficiently.

To learn how we at Alba Consulting can help you to formulate and implement strategies to bring your business onto the global stage, contact us today at +353 1 415 1252 or email us at info@albalogistics.com

Ireland’s economy has been booming and growing more than ever, years after a series of economic setbacks. Despite the geopolitical turmoil in two of its biggest trading partners– the UK and the U.S. – in the past recent months, the economic performance of Ireland has remained solid and strong.

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The scale and diversity of Latin America is something that Irish exporters cannot afford to ignore. Comprised of 33 countries, inhabited by over 600 million people, and with a GDP of over $5.6 trillion, Latin America is one of the few regions in the world that is still growing consistently year over year since the start of 2008 Global Financial Crisis.

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Changes in information and communications technology, international trade liberalization and advances in transportation systems have enabled the rapid spread of business supply and distribution networks beyond the old local and national constraints and onto a global stage – a process often referred to as “Globalization”. This process has accelerated significantly since about 1990 and has dramatic implications for all types and sizes of business and not just for large multinational corporations.

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A hotbed for entrepreneurship, the Gulf area has become one of the leading business destinations in the world today. With an abundance of opportunities for Irish exporters, the Gulf area is an umbrella term encompassing the Arab states that border the Persian Gulf, namely Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates (UAE). These countries make up the economic and political block of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

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A report from Gartner predicts that by 2020, more than 50% of major business processes will incorporate some form of the Internet of Things (IoT). One such business process is the supply chain. Though often overlooked, the application of IoT in supply chain management is already making exceptional changes and developments in international trade landscape.

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Las aplicaciones de la tecnología de la cadena de bloques o “blockchain” en la cadena de suministro y en el comercio internacional tienen el potencial de mejorar la velocidad, la transparencia y los costes en transacciones de topo tipo de manera espectacular y al mismo tiempo de aportar información precisa en tiempo real sobre el estado y la situación de los bienes y los inventarios a lo largo de la cadena de suministro.

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