Taoiseach begins China visit

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has stressed the similarities between Ireland and China as he began a four-day visit to the country today.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has stressed the similarities between Ireland and China as he began a four-day visit to the country today.

Enda Kenny said both nations had a business culture centred on enterprise and innovation after expressing hope Ireland could win solid business from Chinese firms.

Mr Kenny, who will visit Shanghai and Beijing, is joining a trade mission involving 90 companies.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton travelled to the Far East ahead of the Taoiseach.

During the trip Mr Kenny will meet with Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

"Although our countries are very different in size, we have much to offer each other," said the Taoiseach.

"Ireland has advantages which China can benefit from and China represents a vast market for Irish goods and services.

"Our similarities are greater than our differences and we have in many respects a surprisingly similar business culture, centred on enterprise and innovation.

"Irish companies are engaged in a continuous dynamic process of transformation centred on innovation and internationalisation.

"That's why we believe that a comparatively small country like Ireland is able to win solid business in China. We have been working hard to build a strong awareness and a positive image of Ireland.

"Both Ireland and China have moved rapidly toward a knowledge-based economy built on innovation and technology, and our companies have all the elements for working more closely together."

Mr Kenny also thanked the Chinese government for their positive attitude during the euro debt crisis.

"We have greatly appreciated the positive signals from China in support of Europe's efforts to resolve the sovereign debt crisis," he said.

"There is no doubt that this has helped to stabilise financial markets and in the process made it much easier for us in Ireland to address our own problems.

"Ireland's economy is fundamentally sound and the business world knows that we are recovering well. China, I believe, also knows this."

The Taoiseach will take part in a number of business events aimed at promoting sectors of education, financial services, tourism, life sciences, clean technology and agri food.

"I believe that people-to-people contacts enhance relationships between countries," he added.

"Irish culture is very popular in China and there is a great interest in Ireland among Chinese tour operators. There are also great links and possibilities in the education sector.

"Greater trade and cultural links will benefit both of our countries and will help to cement further the excellent relationship that already exists between China and Ireland."

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