Bilateral Profiles and National Agencies > Ireland

General information on Irish development cooperation

Ireland has had a development cooperation programme since 1974 and it is an integral part of Ireland’s foreign policy. The overarching objective of Ireland’s development cooperation programme is to reduce poverty and eradicate hunger. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade provides foreign and trade promotion advice to the Irish government. Irish Aid, the Development Co-operation Division of the Department, manages the government’s development cooperation programme. It also has a coordinating role in relation to overseas official development assistance (ODA) by other government departments, mainly the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Department of Finance. Total aid expenditure in 2011 amounted to €657 million (0.52 per cent of gross national product). Almost 70 per cent was spent on bilateral aid and 90 per cent of Ireland’s bilateral aid went to Sub-Saharan Africa.

“The Aid for Trade (AfT) Initiative has led to trade becoming a development strategy priority. Lasting solutions to the long-term needs in developing countries will need to be underpinned by increased local economic activity which will lead to domestic resource mobilization, foreign direct investment, more regional markets and more two-way trade with the rest of the world.”

Keynote Address by Joe Costello T.D, Minister of State for Trade and Development, OECD Policy Dialogue on Aid for Trade January 2013

Aid for Trade (AfT) strategy

Ireland’s overseas development policy is rooted in a desire to play an advocacy role in the fight against global poverty and the eradication of hunger. In this respect, Ireland seeks to ensure that global trade is seen as an effective tool in the fight against poverty in developing countries, appreciating fully the powerful impact international trade can play in the promotion of economic development and the alleviation of poverty. Ireland has a particular focus on the least developed countries (LDCs).

Ireland’s support for AfT is firmly in line with the EU AfT Strategy and with the 2006 White Paper on Irish Aid, both of which have the eradication of poverty and hunger as their primary and overarching objective. Ireland’s vision is that developing countries should reform trade policy in line with their broader national development plans. Therefore, as part of its overall support for AfT, Ireland provides support (€2.05 million in 2011) to the LDCs and other most vulnerable countries through the major, mainly Geneva-based, international organizations involved in trade-related technical assistance and trade-related capacity building.

The criteria for channelling AfT through multilateral institutions involves, in the first place, an assessment of whether the institution’s mandate, capacity, geographical and thematic focus, programming processes and aid delivery mechanisms represent a close match with Ireland’s development priorities and approach. Such assessments, and subsequent funding decisions, are based on a number of key considerations, including poverty reduction, the distributional impact of trade as an engine for economic growth, and the level of improved access to assets, markets and economic opportunities that would result. Ireland funds institutions that provide AfT support in partnership with developing countries and whose strategies are in line with the beneficiaries’ development strategies, and who coordinate their assistance with other donors. Support through multilateral structures also allows the development of trade programmes across regions, acknowledging the importance of joining up country systems to facilitate trade across borders and ensure access to markets in landlocked countries. Strict accountability and good governance ensure value for money.

Ireland’s support for AfT stretches beyond the traditional areas of multilateral trade-related assistance and includes elements of agricultural support and trade development (e.g. FairTrade).

Principal official agency responsible for TCB assistance to developing countries


Irish Aid

Department of Foreign Affairs

Riverstone House

23-27 Henry Street



Tel.: +3531 4780822

LoCall: 1890 426 700


Irish Aid

Irish Aid, the Development Co-operation Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, manages the government’s development cooperation programme. It also has a coordinating role in relation to ODA by other government departments (20 per cent of ODA), mainly the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Department of Finance. Irish Aid is headed by the Minister of State for Trade and Development. Irish Aid oversees Irish development cooperation relations with bilateral, multilateral and civil society partners in addition to Irish-based organizations and institutions. An Africa Section has lead responsibility for political relations with Africa and for the implementation of the Department’s Africa Strategy, which has seen an increased focus on private sector development. Irish Aid’s programme is completely untied, that is to say it is not conditional in any way on the use of Irish goods or services.

Irish Aid provides regular input on the development dimension of trade policy to the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. This Department is responsible for formulating, developing and representing Ireland’s trade policies as a Member State of the European Union (EU) and as a member of the WTO. Irish Aid supports a range of initiatives and programmes at national and international level aimed at strengthening the capacity of developing countries to expand and benefit from international trade.

For more information:

Other official or government trade-related organizations

Dublin Port Company: is a self-financing, private limited company wholly owned by the state, whose business is to manage Dublin Port, Ireland’s premier port. It is responsible for the management, control, operation and development of the port, and provides a number of key services to its customers within the port, primarily vessel traffic management, pilotage and towage. Dublin Port provides technical assistance (TA) and training to the UNCTAD TrainForTrade Port Training Programme for English-Speaking Developing Countries.

For more information: E-mail:

Economic and Social Research Institute of Ireland (ESRI): produces research that contributes to understanding economic and social change and informs public policymaking and civil society in Ireland and throughout the EU. Key features of ESRI’s research are its strong empirical base, its policy focus and its coverage of many of the major areas of relevance to current policy issues in Ireland and the EU. ESRI also provides consultancy advice in international projects funded by Irish Aid. It is currently working with the Vietnamese government in the field of macro-economic policy and investment policy through a tree-year technical support programme with Vietnam’s National Centre for Socio-Economic Information and Forecasting.

For more information: E-mail:

Enterprise Ireland (EI): EI is the government organization responsible for the development and growth of Irish enterprises in world markets. EI works in partnership with Irish enterprises to help them start, grow, innovate and win export sales on global markets.

For more information:

Industrial Development Agency (IDA): IDA is Ireland’s inward investment promotion agency, responsible for the attraction and development of foreign investment in Ireland. It focuses on securing investment from new and existing clients in the areas of high-end manufacturing, global services (including financial services) and research, development and innovation.

For more information: E-mail:

Port of Cork: is a state commercial port company. It is the key seaport in the south of Ireland. The Port provides and facilitates port activities and services including roll-on roll-off, lift-on lift-off, bulks, cruise, pilotage, channel dredging and land and property rental. Port of Cork provides TA and training to the UNCTAD TrainForTrade Port Training Programme for English-Speaking Developing Countries.

For more information: E-mail:

Non-government organizations involved in TCB

Traidlinks: was founded in 2004 as an outcome of the Private Sector Forum convened by the Minister for Development Cooperation. Traidlinks seeks to build the commercial performance and responsible business practices of the companies it supports. The core of its business lies in supporting small and medium African companies to overcome marketplace challenges, by providing and transferring specialist technical skills and business development expertise, and identifying and providing both international and local routes to market. Traidlinks focuses on two key programme areas: (i) skills exchange; and (ii) promotion and awareness -raising.

For more information: E-mail: contact

Value Added in Africa: founded in 2007, is an Irish fair-trade organization that assists African producers of value-added finished products in finding distributors in Ireland and the UK.

For more information:

TCB cooperation initiatives with UN/international agencies and bilateral partners

Ireland acts as a member of certain UN/international agencies, participates in governing mechanisms of certain international agencies and supports specific projects of certain UN/international agencies.

Financing mechanisms are a mixture of providing core funding to and/or funding specific projects of UN/international agencies.

Ireland has arrangements with the following international agencies:

Advisory Centre for WTO Law (ACWL); the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM); the ITC; World Bank; the WTO; and UNCTAD, in line with UN/WTO accounting and reporting procedures or as outlined in Memoranda of Understanding with the relevant international agencies.

Main mechanisms for monitoring and evaluation are participation in governing body procedures and meetings and/or holding bilateral meetings with the UN/international agencies and cooperation with fellow donors.

Selected TCB programmes and initiatives in this guide


  • European Centre for Development Policy Management


  • WTO Mission Internship Programme


  • Advisory Centre on World Trade Organisation (WTO) Law
  • Facility for Investment Advisory Services (FIAS), World Bank Group


  • Irish Fairtrade Network’s initiatives


  • Standards Trade and Development Facility


  • Uganda Export Promotion Board (UEPB) (MarketLinked)


  • International Trade Centre


  • Port training programme for the port communities of English-speaking developing countries (TrainForTrade)


  • Road Rehabilitation – Ethiopia


  • International Finance Corporation Conflict-Affected States in Africa