Scotland-Ireland bilateral review report

The report and recommendations for this review set out current areas of bilateral cooperation and identify opportunities for cooperation and joint initiatives in new areas, which are devolved to Scotland, over the next 5 years from 2021 to 2025.

Business and Economic Relationship

Close geographic proximity, ease of access, shared language and cultural familiarity mean that Ireland and Scotland are natural economic partners as well as occasional competitors.  

European Offshore Wind Development Centre, Aberdeen.
© Scottish Enterprise/McAteer Photograph
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Trade between our two countries has grown steadily in recent years. Enterprise Ireland client exports to Scotland grew by 44% over the 10 years from 2008-2018. From 2013-2017, Scottish exports to Ireland grew by an average of 4.7% per annum, making Ireland Scotland's sixth largest export market in 2018. 

Responses to the review stressed the already positive nature of economic relations between Ireland and Scotland, and broadly indicated that there is potential for significant growth in this area. The shared industries that underpin both economies provide this potential. Construction, agricultural machinery, renewable energy, food and beverage, digital health, and financial services
are the most promising sectors. Ireland-Scotland trade is
a mix between multinational companies and SMEs.  

There is scope for shared learning and activity to increase our economic cooperation in these areas, particularly on renewable energy. Ireland and Scotland share significant geographic advantages that provide the potential to become world leaders in wind, tidal and wave technology. 

Cooperation on the economic relationship has been strong in recent years. In 2018, Enterprise Ireland led its largest ever trade mission to Scotland, a recognition of the opportunities for Irish companies in Scotland. In the same year, Scotland brought six trade missions to Ireland, involving 60 companies. In 2019, a ministerial-led trade mission brought 16 Scottish companies focused on
fintech and related areas to Ireland. 

Cooperation is also taking place at regional level. Irish and Scottish regional development agencies are working together on the implementation of Co-Innovate –
The Innovations Pathway programme, a European
Interreg programme aimed at increasing the number of SMEs participating in cross-border and transnational research projects. 

Scotland and Ireland have been natural competitors in the international tourism market, which is of huge significance to both economies. Following the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on international travel, and the often remote Irish and Scottish communities which rely heavily on tourism, both governments are committed to including tourism in our ongoing economic work together.

Exports Exchange

372 Enterprise Ireland companies, employing over 22,000 people in Ireland, exported over €253 million to Scotland in 2018. (Enterprise Ireland).

Ireland is Scotland’s closest International trading partner and 6th largest export market. Scotland exported £1.235bn in goods and services to Ireland in 2018. (Export Statistics Scotland).


In 2018, 56 client companies participated in Enterprise Ireland’s largest ever trade mission to Scotland. (Enterprise Ireland).

In 2018, there were 6 trade missions from Scotland to Ireland involving 60 companies. (Scottish Government Office, Dublin).


Enterprise Ireland client exports to Scotland grew by 44% over the 10 years from 2008–2018. Scottish exports to Ireland grew by an average of 4.7% p.a. from 2013-2017. (Enterprise Ireland and Export Statistics Scotland).

Looking Forward 

Both governments are now focused on the challenge
of driving a post-COVID-19 recovery that is sustainable and generates green growth, while protecting and creating good jobs. Geographic proximity, the advantages provided by the Common Travel Area, the existing depth of connections, and the shared nature of challenges underline the importance of the Irish-Scottish economic relationship, and the need to enhance cooperation, and grow trading opportunities. Working with a range of partners in the coming years, there will be scope for shared learning and activity to support economic cooperation in these areas, particularly on renewable energy and digital innovation. 

Case Studies

Mabbett is a Scottish Safety, Environment and Engineering Consultancy which won a number of major Irish contracts having participated in a trade mission to Ireland in 2018. The connections made allowed them to bid for and win a multi-year contract with Bord Bia (the Irish Food Board) to verify Origin Green sustainability plans, working with over 300 Irish food and drink businesses to date, in partnership with Environmental Efficiency in Bray. Mabbett are now established in the Irish market, having secured further contracts with other Irish public sector agencies Bord Iascaigh Mhara (Ireland's Seafood Development Agency) and the Environmental Protection Agency. Mabbett are also registered to support Irish businesses through Enterprise Ireland's Green Business Offer (GreenStart and GreenPlus), currently supporting a food and drink business with an ISO 50001 energy management system project.

Mabbett continue to develop relationships and project opportunities with Irish food and drink, and manufacturing and engineering companies, assisting them to improve environmental performance, legal compliance, sustainability and efficiency. Mabbett's Director-Environment, Geraldine Boylan, has led on building links on the circular economy, sharing experience from projects delivered in Scotland. As they have increased their engagement in Ireland, with businesses and stakeholders such as West Lothian Chamber, South Dublin Chamber and Údarás na Gaeltachta (the Gaeltacht Development Authority) in particular, Mabbett has opened an office in Naas, ensuring further sharing of energy and environmental good practice, benefiting both Ireland and Scotland. 

XOCEAN: Founded in 2017, XOCEAN is an Enterprise Ireland high potential start-up (HPSU) client. Their success, based on ground-breaking technology combined with deep technical expertise, has seen collaboration with leading Scottish companies, including SSE, supporting both offshore wind and subsea cables. In 2018, the company participated in the Enterprise Ireland trade mission to Scotland and has attended events such as SPE Offshore Europe in Aberdeen. 

Using Unmanned Surface Vessels (USVs), XOCEAN provides turnkey data collection services to surveyors, companies and agencies. From mapping the seabed to environmental monitoring, their platform offers a safe, economic and carbon neutral solution to collecting ocean data, thus ensuring coastal nations like Ireland and Scotland can protect and benefit from this precious natural resource. XOCEAN's coastal work in Scotland includes pipeline inspections for companies such as BP, Shell and TOTAL and bathymetric surveys of the Scottish coast for the MCA (Maritime & Coastguard Agency).

Mabbett, a Scottish safety, environment and engineering consultancy company.
© Mabbett
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XOCEAN's Unmanned Surface Vessels operating off the coast of Isle of Skye, Scotland.
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  • Both governments will support relevant business-to-business networks in their work to build personal and business connections between Scotland and Ireland. 
  • The Consulate General of Ireland in Edinburgh and the Scottish Government Office in Dublin will work with our economic agencies, chambers of commerce, local authorities, and the British-Irish Chamber of Commerce to deliver a range of events and activities that will:
    • Focus on the shared challenges – particularly for  SMEs – posed by COVID-19.
    • Share lessons learned and provide opportunities for enhanced business-to-business connections. 
    • Determine how the wider business community wants the bilateral relationship to develop post-COVID and in the changing international context. 
  • In 2021, and working with a wide range of business and local government partners, including the Local Government Information Unit, we will focus on shared challenges and lessons learned for SMEs in both domestic and export markets, and on local government and business efforts to support and rebuild sustainable town centres. 
  • Both governments will jointly host a trade conference, led by Ireland's Consulate General in Edinburgh and the Scottish Government Office in Dublin, to hear views from a wide range of stakeholders including business representative organisations, chambers of commerce, and other enterprise stakeholders.
  • In 2021, the Consulate General of Ireland in Edinburgh and the Scottish Government Office in Dublin will support the formation of a Scotland-Ireland Trade Taskforce. The Taskforce will engage with public and private sectors to promote the development of Irish-Scottish trade relations. The format and remit of the Taskforce will be determined following consultations with trade agencies, industry representatives and chambers of commerce.
  • Ireland and Scotland will cooperate on the research and development of offshore renewable energy technologies, to enable these technologies to become commercially deployable, particularly in the areas of floating wind and wave energy. 
  • Ireland will engage with the Scottish Government on their approach to the wellbeing economy and just transition in Climate Change policy.
  • Both the Consulate General of Ireland in Edinburgh and the Scottish Government Office in Dublin will host focussed business and trade events, with annual showcases focussed on St Patrick's and St Andrew's Days.



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