Ireland and China have signed an agreement to deepen economic and trade links.
In a joint statement the Irish and Chinese governments said they intend to work together with the aim of boosting two-way trade and investment.
The agreement was made on the final day of Taoiseach Enda Kenny's visit to China.
The statement said the agreement "sets out a framework to ensure mutually beneficial cooperation between Ireland and China in a number of important areas".
These areas include:
- Greater levels of two-way trade and investment for Irish and Chinese companies and investors;
- Attracting inward investment from China to Ireland which in turn can facilitate greater access to the wider EU internal market;
- Increased cooperation in the area of science, technology and innovation;
- Closer collaboration in the agriculture sector including food and agribusiness;
- Greater levels of cultural and people-to-people exchanges, including in the education and research sectors.
Both countries also reaffirmed their commitment to respecting and safeguarding human rights and agreed to share expertise in areas such as governance and rule of law. They also restated their commitment to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
The two countries also reaffirmed support the development of EU – China relations.
“This agreement will put Ireland-China relations on a new level," Mr Kenny said.
" It provides a clear and important framework for closer engagement and cooperation in all of the key areas of interest to Ireland."
Mr Kenny said agreements of this type were especially important in the Chinese political, administrative and business system.
"It is a new and highly significant development in Ireland-China relations, and puts the seal on a very successful visit to China," he added.
The Taoiseach was accompanied on the visit by Jobs Minister Richard Bruton as well as officials from Enterprise Ireland, IDA and Forfás. Other state bodies taking part included Tourism Ireland, NTMA, the Central Bank and the Department of Finance.
“The mission has been a very important step in growing closer ties and contacts with our Chinese counterparts and that is given physical form with the agreement of both countries to enter in to a strategic partnership for mutually beneficial co-operation," said Minister Bruton.
"It provides a platform for further developing this exciting and evolving relationship that dates back over 30 years.
"It is a relationship that I, my Department and all the agencies under my remit look forward to developing in the coming months and years.”
Enterprise Ireland meanwhile said more than €35m worth of contracts and commitments were signed in Shanghai and Beijing during the past three days.
The contracts signed covered a wide range of sectors including: clean technologies, mobile software, international services, healthcare, consumer products, education and industrial technologies.
In addition, a number of significant Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs), which are essential building blocks in developing business in China, were signed between Irish companies and their Chinese counterparts. These MOUs covered areas such as International Education, Financial and International Services.
"Exports create and sustain jobs; and visits like this, especially in China are crucial in building exports," said Enterprise Ireland CEO Frank Ryan.
"We are extremely proud of our Irish client companies and congratulate them on their success this week in China.”