The Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Brian Cowen has announced  $133 million in 23 new US-Irish trade deals.

The businesses involved include software, knitwear, life sciences, engineering companies, industry and consumer companies.

The announcement, which was the first led by a Taoiseach for over 20 years, came amidst the largest Enterprise Ireland trade mission in over 20 years.

The trade mission featured 98 Irish companies, including eight from Northern Ireland. “We’re showing that in the current climate we’re not taking the U.S. market for granted,” said Tom Cusack, U.S. Director for Enterprise Ireland.

“It’s an extremely important market for Ireland – it’s the number two export market for Irish companies, so now more than ever
Irish companies need to be spending face time in the market here, meeting customers.”

The trade mission's overall objective is to help Irish companies to maintain and expand current business relationships with
their U.S. customers and partners.

Ireland, which is now the 10th largest investor in the U.S., invested over $33 billion here in 2008.

Strong investment by Irish companies in the U.S. means that over 82,000 American citizens are now employed in over 200 Irish-owned companies across 1,300 locations in 50 states. Meanwhile, 27 Irish companies opened a new office in the US last year.

“The Taoiseach’s announcements will send a very positive message to Ireland and to the U.S. Business is being won by Irish companies and there are always opportunities in adversity,” said Cusack.