The next two weeks will see 15 companies from Northern Ireland visiting South Africa to explore opportunities for trade, joint ventures and technology transfer with South African businesses.
The delegation, organised by Invest Northern Ireland, a UK regional economic development agency, will visit Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, supported by UK Trade & Investment.
Most of the companies in the delegation are new to the South African market, but are experienced exporters, and are keen to develop business relationships with firms here, particularly through the appointment of distributors.
Learning Pool, a developer of e-learning procurement products for the public sector, will be announcing its entry into the South African market. Using the trip to further enhance a multi-million partnership with the Johannesburg-based Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, the company will bring procurement training products to government departments across South Africa.
The delegation is broadly representative of industry in machinery engineering especially in terms of diesel power generation and screening, conveying and recycling (Northern Ireland is a global leader in mobile crushing, washing and recycling equipment), ICT, life sciences and agri-products (agriculture and food processing is the region's biggest single industry).
Leading the delegation is Dr Vicky Kell, Invest Northern Ireland Trade Director, who describes the mission as " an important initiative to strengthen business and other relationships with the South African business community".
Dr Kell adds: "South Africa is a rapidly developing market with strong economic growth and high potential offering Northern Ireland companies a breadth of opportunity for innovative and export focused business.
"I also believe there is substantial potential for companies in South Africa to explore new markets or expand their sales in Europe by making use of our experience of the EU marketplace. By working with Northern Ireland businesses, South African companies can gain access to a total solution to their European requirements in manufacturing, marketing and customer support services.
"Similarly, South African partnerships make good business sense for Northern Ireland companies interested in developing their sales and presence in the South African region," Dr Kell adds.