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Monday, July 16, 2012
Ireland needs to devote diplomatic and business development resources to the Indonesian capital of Jakarta or risk being excluding from one of the world’s fastest- growing economies, warns one of the country’s leading promoters of Irish-Asian business links.
Martin Murray, executive director of the Asia Pacific Ireland Business Forum, said Ireland needs to open an embassy in Jakarta and allocate greater Enterprise Ireland resources to properly compete with exports from other EU states.
Mr Murray said: "Irish exports to Asia account for a little over 4% of our total exports. The EU27 average is closer to 23%. Irish companies are making inroads in Asia. However, over 90% of Ireland’s exports are from multinationals based here. We need to grow our exports from indigenous companies.
"Indonesia has been growing at 6% annually on a consistent basis. It is the world’s fourth largest country with a population of 240m people and a growing middle class, yet Ireland has a far greater focus on China," he said.
"There are huge opportunities for legal and financial services, roads and infrastructure, mobile telephony and wireless communications, and in education.
"In its latest reforms, the government in Jakarta has allocated 20% of its annual budget to education. They’re sending students to Australia, Canada, the US and UK. I only know of three Indonesian students studying in Ireland. No doubt there’s more here, but it is just another example of the opportunity we’re ignoring."
Also CEO of the business networking group Asia Matters, Mr Murray was one of the main organisers of the second annual Asia Now conference in Croke Park last Friday. Attended by leading industry and government figures from China, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and other key Asian states, the event was also addressed by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Liam Casey of Cork-headquartered electronics firm PCH International, among others.
Mr Murray praised the efforts to promote Irish business in Asia by agencies such as Enterprise Ireland. However, he said Ireland’s sole diplomatic office in Singapore is not enough to cover the 10 Asean (Association of South-East Asian Nations) countries, which includes Malaysia the Philippines Indonesia and Singapore.
"Ireland is concentrating its resources on Singapore," said Mr Murray. "That’s like an Asian country deciding to run its business network for Germany out of Ireland. It just doesn’t make sense. We need a greater presence to capitalise on the growing opportunities in Indonesia.
"AltoBridge is making great inroads in Indonesia with its wireless technologies, and other Irish companies could easily follow their lead," he said.
"For example, Rovio, the company who produced Angry Birds, the world’s most popular app, recently launched their latest suite of products in Jakarta. They could have chosen the US or anywhere else in the world.
At the Asia Now conference, Liam Casey said: "Geography is history. Other countries are getting the message and Ireland needs to get it too."
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