Ir­ish com­pa­nies sign €50m worth of deals at im­port expo in Shang­hai

Ir­ish groups in­cluded Glen Dim­plex, Car­toon Sa­loon and Ir­ish Breeze Min­is­ter says Chi­nese pres­i­dent has shown he is com­mit­ted to global trade

The Irish Times - Business - - BUSINESS NEWS - CLIF­FORD COONAN in Shang­hai

Min­is­ter for Busi­ness, En­ter­prise and In­no­va­tion Heather Humphreys over­saw the sign­ing of €50 mil­lion worth of deals at the In­ter­na­tional Im­port Expo in Shang­hai by Ir­ish com­pa­nies.

These in­cluded Glen Dim­plex, Car­toon Sa­loon and Ir­ish Breeze.

“I feel the state­ment the Chi­nese pres­i­dent made was very clear, that he’s com­mit­ted to global trade and to a rules-based sys­tem,” she said.

The event is tak­ing place as Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is press­ing China to re­duce its huge trade deficit with the US, stop steal­ing in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty and to tear down bar­ri­ers to trade, and has in­tro­duced ex­tra tar­iffs of 10 per cent on $200 bil­lion (€175 bil­lion) of Chi­nese prod­ucts, which are due to in­crease to 25 per cent by the end of the year.

For its part, China has in­tro­duced levies of about $60 bil­lion (€53 bil­lion) on US goods.

Less vo­cal

While the Euro­pean Union has been less vo­cal than the US, it has urged China to take firm ac­tion to open up its mar­ket to for­eign firms and in­tro­duce a level play­ing field.

“What the EU wants is a level play­ing field and we con­tinue to work through the EU and the com­mis­sioner in terms of mak­ing sure that a deal is done that serves our in­ter­ests as well,” Ms Humphreys said.

One of the head­line Ir­ish deals was a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing be­tween Bord Bia and Wyeth China, where the com­pany will source all of its dairy in­gre­di­ents for its Il­luma base brand ex­clu­sively from milk from Ir­ish farms par­tic­i­pat­ing in Bord Bia’s “Sus­tain­able Dairy As­sur­ance Scheme”.

The Wyeth agree­ment is es­ti­mated to be worth €110 mil­lion an­nu­ally, Bord Bia chief ex­ec­u­tive Tara Mc­Carthy said.

“This agree­ment is very good news for the Ir­ish dairy in­dus­try and a vote of con­fi­dence in the Ir­ish food sec­tor by one of its strate­gic part­ners com­mit­ted to work­ing with us on shar­ing in­sights on Chi­nese con­sumers and build­ing aware­ness of Ire­land’s pre­mium food of­fer­ing in the mar­ket,” she said.

En­ter­prise Ire­land chief ex­ec­u­tive Julie Sin­na­mon said the US-China trade war had not had an im­pact, but Brexit was def­i­nitely driv­ing ef­forts to boost trade to the re­gion.

“You can see it on this trade mis­sion in terms of the com­pa­nies that are new to the mar­ket. Ir­re­spec­tive of where we end up on Brexit, com­pa­nies hav­ing a more diver­si­fied bas­ket of mar­kets is good for them,” she said.

Tens of thou­sands of buy­ers poured into the Shang­hai expo, keen to ful­fil Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s prom­ise to sup­port glob­al­i­sa­tion and open up the world’s sec­ond-big­gest econ­omy by re­brand­ing China as a ma­jor im­porter.

More than 3,000 for­eign com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing 24 from Ire­land, have at­tended the expo, which is spread over a vast con­course of 1.5 mil­lion square me­tres, a pow­er­ful state­ment by China that it packs a punch as a global mar­ket de­spite the neg­a­tive im­pact of Don­ald Trump’s trade war.

The fair has a slightly ran­dom feel to it – nor­mally these trade shows show­case a sin­gle in­dus­try – but the expo is pre­sented as an op­por­tu­nity for the world to pre­sent its best prod­ucts to the hun­gry Chi­nese con­sumer. Over 150,000 buy­ers from across China are set to visit over its six-day run.

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