The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore, TD, today meets with Mr. Liu Yunshan, a leading member of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China.
The visit provides an opportunity for the Tánaiste to welcome the agreement of the Chinese Government to the opening of a new Irish Consulate General in Hong Kong this year.
Speaking before the meeting, the Tánaiste said:
"The new Consulate will significantly improve our footprint in the region, working alongside the Embassy in Beijing and the Consulate in Shanghai to boost trade and investment links that are already worth over €8 billion a year.
This and other initiatives such as the China-Ireland Technology Growth Fund set up last January can further develop trade and investment relations between our two countries.”
Hong Kong is one of eight new Irish Embassies or Consulates announced earlier this year, which will be established in locations across South East Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas, specifically designed to support trade and inward investment.
During the meeting, the Tánaiste and Mr Liu will discuss ways to further boost trade and investment flows, to increase cooperation in education and culture and to improve visitor numbers from China to Ireland. They will also discuss European and international developments, and other issues of interest including human rights.
The Tánaiste will discuss Mr Liu’s visit to a traditional family farm in Newtownmountkennedy to see the natural production methods and rigorous standards which have made our agricultural produce so successful overseas.
“Over the last two years Ireland’s exports of Food, Drink and Agri products to China have almost doubled to reach €415m in 2013. This figure is driven by strong growth in our dairy, pork and seafood exports.”
16 June 2014
Notes for editors
• Mr Liu is one of the most senior Chinese leaders to visit Ireland and has wide ranging domestic responsibilities including with regard to information and culture, the education system, artistic and cultural activities, and the training of Party and government officials.
• Liu Yunshan is visiting Ireland at the invitation of the Government, and in the context of furthering cooperation under the Strategic Partnership agreed during the Taoiseach’s visit to China in 2012.
• Mr Liu has met the President, the Tánaiste, and Ministers Bruton, Quinn and Hayes (Tom) during his visit. Tomorrow he will meet the Taoiseach, and will witness the signature by Minister Deenihan of a Memorandum of Understanding on work towards establishing a Chinese cultural centre in Ireland.
• Mr Liu has visited the Guinness Storehouse, Powerscourt House and Gardens, the Phoenix Park, and a family farm in Wicklow. He is visiting companies involved in Ireland-China trade and investment, and received a briefing from the IDA. The Tánaiste will host a working dinner in Iveagh House.
• Mr Liu has participated in a programme of events at UCD to mark the European Conference of Confucius Institutes, and performed the stone-laying for a new Confucius Institute building.
Overall highlights of Ireland-China relations:
Two-way Ireland-China trade (in goods and services) is more than €8 billion per annum - with Ireland one of the handful of EU member States enjoying a trade surplus with China;
Our Food & Drinks exports to China now amount to almost half a billion Euro per annum. They have tripled in value in the last three years and grew by 40% in 2013 alone. China will be Ireland’s Number 2 market in the world in this sector within three to five years (behind only the UK);
5 Irish Universities give full courses in Chinese, and Chinese Language & Culture are about to be mainstreamed into the Junior Cycle syllabus in Irish secondary schools. Ireland is home to two Confucius Institutes (in UCD and UCG);
Around 2,700 Chinese students are studying in Irish higher education institutions, with a further 2,400 studying on Irish programmes in partner institutions in China. China is our second most important higher education market after the USA, and tuition income is worth nearly €30m per annum. Irish higher education institutions have over 150 partnership programmes in operation with Chinese institutions;
In January, 2014, Ireland and China set up a Joint Technology Capital Growth Fund with US$ 100 million in capital (contributed by both sides in equal measure) to invest in growing technology companies from each country;
In 2013, Ireland welcomed 18,000 visitors from China, a +7% increase on the previous year and there is every indication of continuing growth in 2014. Tourism Ireland aims to grow the number of Chinese tourists to Ireland to 50,000 per year, over the coming five years, through extensive marketing and improved access arrangements.