Taoiseach Brian Cowen TD said he believes Ireland can become the “gateway” for Chinese investment into Europe. He made his comment in the wake of meeting a high-level Chinese delegation in Government Buildings.
The Chinese delegation was led by Mr Li Changchun, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.
It’s the highest level Chinese delegation to have visited Ireland in the last six years. In 2004, China Premier Wen Jiabao visited Ireland.
Cowen said Ireland has important advantages, including being the only English-speaking country in the Eurozone.
He said that Irish trade with China had increased “six fold in the last 10 years”. Ten years ago, 45 Irish companies had a permanent presence in China, that number had grown today to 115.
Stressing the importance of trade strategies, Cowen said that in 1999, Ireland had launched an Asia trade strategy with a view to doubling trade, a target that had been surpassed.
“In the light of my discussions with Mr Li today, I am convinced that there are major opportunities to increase trade and investment between Ireland and China,” Cowen said. “Mr Li made clear to me that Ireland’s brand and reputation are very strong in China.”
His comment comes on the eve of the launch of a major new integrated plan for trade, tourism and investment today. The Taoiseach will be joined by a number of other Government ministers who worked on the cross-departmental strategy.