ENTERPRISE Ireland is planning its first trade mission to Ukraine since it gained independence.

The State agency has scheduled the trip, which may be attended by Enterprise Minister Martin, for June.

Ukraine, with a population of 48m, is a potentially huge market on the edge of the EU. It had until 2004 been one of Europe's fastest-growing economies, with GDP rising by 12.1pc. However, this fell back to just 2.6pc last year, due in part to a sharp fall in global metal prices - metals are among its chief exports. Ireland exported Ђ15.9m worth of products to Ukraine in 2004, Unison.ie reports.

But this figure could be significantly higher, as some Irish exports to the country are passed through other countries first.

Enterprise Ireland (EI) has identified a number of sectors of interest to Irish companies, including wireless communications, banking technology, healthcare, business consulting and aviation.

"The trade mission will act as a focus for existing Irish interest in Ukraine and will attract other Irish companies wishing to enter the Ukrainian market," an EI spokesperson said.

"Trade mission participants will have the opportunity to thoroughly investigate the market and interact with their Ukrainian counterparts."


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