Irish Exporters Association - Launch of the 2014 Asia Trade Forum,10 March 2014DFAT - 10/3/14
Irish Exporters Association - Launch of the 2014 Asia Trade Forum
10 March 2014
Address by Minister of State for Trade and Development Joe Costello, TD
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Vice President Hugh Kelly,
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a pleasure to join you today at the launch of the Irish Exporters Association’s 2014 Asia Trade Forum. I am particularly pleased that we are joined today by the Ambassador of Thailand and his delegation who are here on a programme visit to Dublin and Cork.
Later this week, I will be visiting the dynamic ASEAN region for meetings in Singapore and the Philippines. The visit will focus on both aspects of my Ministerial responsibilities – trade and development, with a range of trade promotion meetings and events, alongside visiting some of the areas devastated by typhoon Haiyan and witnessing the huge rebuilding efforts underway, strongly supported by Irish Aid.
Trade and development are inextricably linked. Much of Asia was underdeveloped 50 years ago. But countries like Korea and Japan focused strongly on export-oriented manufacturing to drive their economic development. They were later joined by China and others. The massive economic advances made by the countries of Asia have been driven by their ability to make and export products and services.
Ireland has followed a similar path since the early 1960s, transforming what was once a largely agricultural country into a leading high-tech and export-focused economy.
We are all aware of just how vital exports have been over recent years in driving Ireland’s economic recovery. Today, I would like to commend the work of the Irish Exporters Association in this regard, and am sure that Hugh Kelly and Simon McKeever will give great direction and leadership over the coming period.
The St Patrick’s day period is always an occasion to publicise internationally what we have to offer as a country. Along with my own visit to Singapore and the Philippines, three further Ministers will travel to Asia, visiting Japan, Korea, China, Hong Kong SAR and Vietnam.
The focus of all these visits will be firmly on promoting trade, investment, and other links with Ireland.
The Government has had a very strong engagement with Asia in the recent period. The Taoiseach visited Japan last December at the invitation of Prime Minister Abe, and secured the re-opening of that important market to Irish beef.
The Tánaiste visited China last August, and, among many other things, reached agreement on access for Irish salmon to the Chinese market.
Minister Bruton has recently completed an historic first joint trade mission with his British and Northern Irish counterparts to Singapore.
In the past year and a half, I have travelled to Malaysia, Vietnam, Mongolia and China. In all cases, my colleagues and I do all that we can to assist Irish companies in winning contracts, opening doors, and building relationships.
In other words, the Government is fully committed to, and is doing, all it can to promote trade and investment between Ireland and the countries of Asia.
But of course we can only work in support of Irish companies and businesses. The businesses represented here today are the ones investing the time and resources in developing markets in Asia. We know this work can be slow and painstaking, and requires sustained commitment. But persistence pays off.
For example, PM Group has just won a significant contract from the Asian Development Bank for an urban renewal project in Mandalay in Myanmar/Burma. I know how much time has been invested by that one company in building its credibility as a potential partner.
I also know how much work has been put into Asia by companies here today such as ESBI, Critical Healthcare, Future Nutrition, S3 Group, Bannow Exports, Lotusworks and many more.
The Government’s commitment to building relations with Asia is evident in the recent decision to open three new diplomatic missions in the region, in Indonesia, Thailand and Hong Kong.
These important new missions will substantially increase our footprint in Asia, and will, I am confident, serve to boost trade, tourism, investment and other links with Ireland.
These trade and investment links will reinforce what is already happening here in Ireland. The difficult decisions taken by the Government are now, thankfully, bearing fruit. Unemployment has fallen for 19 consecutive months and is now below 12%. We have successfully exited the EU/IMF assistance programme. The public finances have been stabilised. And we are expected to be one of the fast growing economies in the eurozone next year.
Ireland has a huge amount to offer to Asia; first class food and agri-products and services, leading financial and legal services, excellent education programmes here and in-country, world-class ICT, life-sciences and medical device companies, the best location for inward investment in Europe, and much more.
Irish companies are forging successful partnerships with counterparts in Asia and ensuring win-win outcomes.
The Government will continue to do all it can to support Irish business in its endeavours.