An Bord Pleanála has granted permission for the development of a €175m European/Asian trading hub in Athlone, Co Westmeath.
RTÉ reports that this Europe China Trading Hub will be built on a 140-hectare site in Athlone.
It will be used as a trading hub for international commerce between China, Europe and the rest of the world. Chinese manufacturers will be able to display their products to European and international buyers in order to generate business. This will mean customers could trade with Chinese businesses without having to travel to China.
Products and enterprises from China, such as electric cars, medical devices, fabrics and machinery, will be displayed and traded from the centre. There will also be space made for showcasing Chinese heritage and culture.
It will be the largest European source of Chinese-branded goods and will also offer visitors banking facilities, taxation advice, translation services, legal services and travel arrangements. It’s expected to attract a possible €1.5m from buyers and visitors annually when finished.
Phase one will include two exhibition halls, one hall for visiting exhibitions, nine smaller exhibition halls, an administrative building and a reception.
When completed, it will feature nine exhibition halls, nine smaller independent exhibition buildings, a temporary exhibitions space, offices, administrative services, hotels, shops, restaurants, pubs, a school and a train station. The hall will also showcase Irish products to international visitors.
A statement from the project bankers said most of these jobs created by the project will be for Irish/EU nationals.
Planning was initially granted by the Westmeath County Council to Athlone Business Park, which is behind the project. It’s being financed by private equity and pre-sales of concession spaces at the centre.