Steadily and rapidly

Europe’s fastest-grow­ing econ­omy, Ire­land, ex­cited about im­port expo

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - FRONT PAGE -

China In­ter­na­tional Im­port Expo (CIIE) opened in Shang­hai on Mon­day and will run un­til Novem­ber 10. The world’s first im­port-themed na­tional-level expo has at­tracted a to­tal of 172 coun­tries, re­gions and in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions to show­case their prod­ucts and achieve­ments.

Ire­land, one of the ex­hibitors, will at­tend the expo with 20 Ir­ish com­pa­nies from dif­fer­ent in­dus­tries and sec­tors. Heather Humphreys, Min­is­ter for Busi­ness, En­ter­prise & In­no­va­tion of Ire­land, re­cently con­ducted an email in­ter­view with the Global Times to in­tro­duce their plans for and ex­pec­ta­tions of the expo, bi­lat­eral trade be­tween China and Ire­land, as well as China’s Belt and Road ini­tia­tive. Be­low are ex­cerpts of the in­ter­view.

GT: How will Ire­land par­tic­i­pate in CIIE? What goals do you hope to achieve through CIIE?

Humphreys: There will be quite a few Ir­ish com­pa­nies from mul­ti­ple sec­tors in­clud­ing in­dus­trial, ser­vice, con­sumer, travel and tech­nol­ogy ex­hibit­ing their prod­ucts and ser­vices at our coun­try’s stand. As Ire­land is renowned for the high qual­ity of its food prod­ucts, Ire­land’s F&B in­dus­try will have a strong pres­ence at CIIE with over 11 in­dus­try-re­lated com­pa­nies par­tic­i­pat­ing.

Speak­ing about what goals we want to achieve through CIIE, I hope that Ir­ish com­pa­nies will gain a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the Chi­nese mar­ket. At the same time, Chi­nese com­pa­nies will be able to learn more about Ire­land, do busi­ness with Ir­ish com­pa­nies and even in­vest in Ire­land it­self. The expo is also ca­ter­ing to the mes­sage sent by the Chi­nese govern­ment to en­cour­age Chi­nese com­pa­nies to learn more from for­eign com­pa­nies and con­duct more in­ter­na­tional trade and in­vest­ment.

GT: This year marks the 40th an­niver­sary of China’s re­form and open­ing-up. When were Ir­ish prod­ucts first ex­ported to the Chi­nese mar­ket? Com­pared with to­day’s China, are there any no­tice­able changes?

Humphreys: The first time that an Ir­ish prod­uct was ex­ported to the Chi­nese mar­ket could be traced back to the 1970s. En­ter­prise Ire­land, the main govern­ment agency sup­port­ing Ir­ish com­pa­nies ex­port­ing to over­seas mar­kets, was es­tab­lished ear­lier than the Em­bassy of Ire­land.

How­ever, at that time, the pre­dom­i­nant ex­ports from Ire­land were raw ma­te­ri­als, like sheep’s wool. Now, food, tech­nol­ogy, ser­vice and equip­ment are key ar­eas. Es­pe­cially food; China is now the third-largest mar­ket for Ir­ish food, with trade in 2017 val­ued at 8 bil­lion yuan ($1.16 bil­lion). Busi­ness has dou­bled over the past five years alone.

China be­came much more open to im­ports from abroad, and its lat­est 5-year plan sup­ports this, as it places greater em­pha­sis on do­mes­tic con­sump­tion of im­ported goods. And for China to host CIIE also shows in­cred­i­ble progress.

GT: How im­por­tant is the Chi­nese mar­ket and its con­sumers to Ire­land? Do you plan to in­vite more Ir­ish com­pa­nies and prod­ucts to ex­pand into China in the com­ing years?

Humphreys: En­ter­prise Ire­land’s client com­pa­nies’ ex­ports to China grew 5 per­cent to reach record lev­els of 1.07 bil­lion eu­ros ($1.22 bil­lion) in 2017. Thus, China now ac­counts for 52 per­cent of client ex­ports to Asi­aPa­cific re­gion and 4.4 per­cent of global ex­ports.

In terms of fur­ther ex­pan­sions, we have a goal of in­creas­ing ex­ports to Asia-Pa­cific re­gion by 50 per­cent from

2 bil­lion eu­ros to

3 bil­lion eu­ros by

2020. And this in­cludes a goal of

1.6 bil­lion eu­ros in ex­ports to China by

2020.

The re­cent de­ci­sion by the Chi­nese govern­ment to al­low ac­cess to Ir­ish beef pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity to grow our trade fur­ther. Our ob­jec­tive in the food busi­ness is to build strate­gic part­ner­ships that ben­e­fit both coun­tries and pro­vide Chi­nese con­sumers with pre­mium, safe and nat­u­rally pro­duced prod­ucts.

GT: In 2017, bi­lat­eral trade be­tween China and Ire­land ex­ceeded $10 bil­lion for the first time in his­tory. How will Ire­land col­lab­o­rate with China in the fu­ture, es­pe­cially un­der the Belt and Road ini­tia­tive?

Humphreys: The am­bi­tions of both the Chi­nese govern­ment and China’s pri­vate sec­tor to im­prove the com­pet­i­tive­ness of Chi­nese prod­ucts has driven de­mand for for­eign tech­nol­ogy and ex­per­tise to sat­isfy gaps in the do­mes­tic mar­ket. This, too, has cre­ated im­mense op­por­tu­ni­ties for over­seas busi­nesses. Sig­nif­i­cant Ir­ish de­vel­op­ment has al­lowed us to cap­i­tal­ize on th­ese op­por­tu­ni­ties in dif­fer­ent sec­tors, in­clud­ing high-qual­ity dairy and food prod­ucts and agritech, ed­u­ca­tion, ICT and soft­ware, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal and pharm en­gi­neer­ing and fi­nan­cial ser­vices and fin­tech.

The Belt and Road ini­tia­tive is a great op­por­tu­nity to ex­pand ex­ist­ing co­op­er­a­tion in trade and in­vest­ment as new trade deals can be ac­cessed with other coun­tries. There are many ar­eas that Ire­land would like to col­lab­o­rate with China, so we wel­come Chi­nese com­pa­nies to visit our stand at CIIE to chat with us about your in­ter­ests.

GT: What do you think of China’s Belt and Road ini­tia­tive? What in­vest­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties may it bring to Ire­land? What are the unique ad­van­tages of Ire­land for Chi­nese In­vestors?

Humphreys: For Ire­land, it will be much eas­ier for dis­trib­u­tors and man­u­fac­tur­ers to de­liver prod­ucts to China as a re­sult of the ex­ten­sive in­fra­struc­ture be­ing put in place. I can see strong po­ten­tial for Chi­nese com­pa­nies to in­vest in Ire­land and use Ire­land as a plat­form to sup­port their global mar­ket.

Next year will be the 40th an­niver­sary of the es­tab­lish­ment of diplo­matic re­la­tions be­tween China and Ire­land. This sta­ble po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment helps Chi­nese com­pa­nies de­velop steadily and rapidly in Ire­land. Ad­di­tion­ally, Ire­land is the fastest-grow­ing econ­omy in Europe. The cor­po­rate tax in Ire­land is only 12.5 per­cent. The govern­ment also gives fi­nan­cial sup­port to R&D projects.

Pho­tos: VCG and cour­tesy of IDA Ire­land

Top: Heather Humphreys, Min­is­ter for Busi­ness, En­ter­prise & In­no­va­tion of Ire­land; Main: Cows graze on a grassy field in Tip­per­ary, Ire­land.

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