By Pádraig Hoare
Chinese foreign direct investment will be key for Irish economic growth in the future, as trade missions abroad increasingly concentrate on Asian markets.
That was the message from Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister, Simon Coveney at the Asia Matters Business Summit, which took place in Cork.
The two-day summit focused on the information technology (IT) sector, agriculture, food, life sciences, pharma and tourism.
It was organised by Asia Matters, Ireland’s only think tank on Asia, led by Cork native Martin Murray.
The Tánaiste said Irish diplomatic and trade missions abroad were increasingly focused on the Asia Pacific region, and that it was important IT companies from Asia were aware of what the Republic has to offer in terms of foreign direct investment.
“Foreign direct investment is a key contributor to Irish economic growth and employment, and has helped transform our enterprise base.
The Asia Pacific region has become a key player in foreign direct investment, and China is now the largest foreign direct investor in the world after the US,” he said.
Japan is the largest investor from the region in Ireland, and Mr Coveney said that Asia trade in 2017 is estimated to have been worth around €15bn to Ireland, double the value of trade in 2013.
Government strategy was to double Ireland’s global diplomatic and trade footprint by 2025, he added.
The conference also heard how medical technologies, life sciences and pharmaceuticals as well as associated sectors currently employ over 10,000 people in Cork, and that business opportunities in the areas were plenty in Asia.
Mayor of Cork County, Cllr Declan Hurley said the country, and Cork in particular, looked well placed to benefit significantly from its growing links with Asia.
A recent study on urban Europe in 2016 identified Cork as the metropolitan region with the highest level of productivity in Ireland, he said.
“A worker in Cork generates approximately €105,000 per person per year; this is higher than the €96,000 produced by workers in Dublin and is even higher than that produced by workers in the City of London,” he said.