Trade forum highlights opportunities for Ireland and China

20 Feb 2012

Pictured at this morning's Enterprise Ireland China Trade and Investment Forum was China's vice-president Xi Jinping

Over 350 representatives from Irish and Chinese firms attended this morning’s China Trade and Investment Forum in Dublin as part of China’s vice-president Xi Jinping’s visit to Ireland.

Mr Xi, who arrived at Shannon Airport on Saturday for a three-day visit to Ireland, is set to become president of China when the current president Hu Jintao’s second term ends in October.

Ireland was the only European country that Mr Xi visited following his visit to the US last week.

While here with his 150-strong delegation, Mr Xi, took in a visit at Shannon Development, a dairy farm, a medieval banquet at Bunratty Castle, plus he also took in a tour of Croke Park yesterday. Taoiseach Enda Kenny said China Trade and Investment Forum this morning that he had accepted Mr Xi’s invitation to visit China in early March.

The Taoiseach indicated that he would be “delighted” to play his part in “enhancing trade and investment between Chinese and Irish companies”.

Pictured at this morning's Enterprise Ireland's China Trade and Investment Forum were China's Vice President Xi Jinping and Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Pictured at this morning’s Enterprise Ireland China Trade and Investment Forum were China’s vice-president Xi Jinping and Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Today’s forum was organised by Enterprise Ireland, IDA, Bord Bia and Science Foundation Ireland.

Indigenous Irish exports to China grew by 10pc in 2011, for the second year in a row, said Enterprise Ireland today. The agency is now aiming for a further 15pc growth in 2012.

It said that that client exports to China grew by 10pc in 2010 to €251m and initial estimates show that 2011 delivered a further 10pc.
More than 200 Irish companies export to China, with 140 of them now having offices in China.

“The visit to Ireland by Vice President Xi is hugely significant in terms of Ireland’s export-led recovery.  China is a priority market for Enterprise Ireland and we’re working intensively with Irish companies to help them access growth opportunities in China,” said Enterprise Ireland CEO Frank Ryan today.

He said that because Enterprise Ireland client companies had grown Irish exports to China by 10pc year-on-year, this makes China the No 1 destination for indigenous Irish exports in the Asia region.

The China Ireland Trade Forum involved several presentations to highlight Ireland’s strengths to the Chinese delegation such as high-end technologies from Ireland. It also looked at Ireland as a location for third-level education for Chinese students.

In terms of our food sector, the forum also looked at Ireland as a source of some of the worlds leading food products to include dairy, meat and beverages.

IDA Ireland also looked at Ireland as a compelling investment location for foreign multinationals.

At a dinner at Dublin Castle last night, the Taoiseach and Mr Xi also witnessed the signing of agreements between Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton and China’s vice-minister of commerce, Gao Hucheng.

The first was a memorandum of understanding on co-operation between the business sectors in both countries.

The other agreement was to set up a working group to facilitate future investment and remove any obstacles that could hamper bilateral investment opportunities between both China and Ireland.

Two-way trade between Ireland and China in 2011 totalled €4.5bn.

Mr Xi has now left Ireland to visit Turkey.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic