China’s Vice President Xi Jinping has called on enterprise leaders in Ireland and China to further expand business opportunities in both countries.
Concluding his three-day visit to Ireland, Mr Xi said the Government will continue to encourage investment by Chinese companies here.
Meanwhile Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the visit by Mr Xi, and a reciprocal visit he plans to make to China next month, will forge a deeper and firmer relationship between the two countries.
Speaking at the Ireland-China Trade and Investment Forum in the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham today, Mr Kenny said Ireland is the perfect location for China to serve world markets and is more competitive than ever.
“I’m very confident that Ireland-China relations can be taken forward, in this Year of the Dragon, in the spirit of those qualities of enterprise, of innovation, of passion and of perseverance,” Mr Kenny told the gathering of more than 350 business leaders from Ireland and China, organised by Enterprise Ireland.
In his address the Chinese leader-in-waiting promised the Chinese government will continue to encourage investment in Ireland and encourage Irish companies to invest in China.
Mr Xi also said business leaders in both countries need to take independent action.
“Hi-tech and emerging industries can become a priority in China-Ireland economic cooperation and trade,” said Mr Xi, speaking through an interpreter.
“Business leaders of our two countries need to seize opportunities to expand hi-tech and emerging industries cooperation for mutual benefit.”
At today's event Enterprise Ireland announced exports to China by home-grown Irish companies grew 10% last year and the target for growth this year is 15%
The event was the culmination of three days of engagements for Mr Xi and his 150-strong delegation of business leaders and government officials.
The delegation had earlier in the day met with President Michael D Higgins at Áras an Úachtaráin and held talks with politicians at Leinster House.
The group arrived on Saturday after five days in the United States.
The Chinese party was briefed by management at Shannon Development business park, attended a traditional banquet at Bunratty Castle and saw the Cliffs of Moher.
He also visited a family-run dairy farm at Sixmilebridge, Co Clare, where farmer James Lynch named a newborn calf after him, and saw a demonstration of Gaelic games in Croke Park.
Last night Mr Xi and his delegation attended a dinner hosted by Mr Kenny and a special performance of Riverdance.
But the trip has been criticised by human rights organisations, which have called on the Government to raise China’s human rights records with the vice president.
Mr Xi departs for Turkey later today.