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Minister Flanagan urges Irish businesses to seek new growth opportunities in Asia

Minister Flanagan urges Irish businesses to seek new growth opportunities in Asia

Companies seeking fresh opportunities should harness the Government resources in Asia to help them grow and expand, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, T.D., said this evening.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade last year opened Embassies in Jakarta and Bangkok and a Consulate in Hong Kong with a remit to work with the State Agencies to support Irish businesses to flourish in these less traditional markets, Minister Flanagan told guests at the Asia Matters Economic Innovation Award Dinner in Dublin.

“These emerging economies have huge growth potential for Irish exports and investment. While sectors such as financial services and aviation leasing offer some immediate potential, we also need to take a strategic approach and identify which areas have the potential to succeed over the longer term.

“Increasing prosperity and demographic changes mean that ASEAN, and indeed much of Asia, is likely to have a significantly growing young middle class in the coming years. Their needs will not be the same in 10 to 20 years, so I encourage you all to cast your minds forward and think about how you can best position your businesses to continue to succeed in 10-20 years’ time.

“Our network of embassies and consulates in the region, in addition to the Enterprise Ireland and IDA offices, are there to work with you, so I would urge you to consider how best you can use the resources available to maximise your success in Asian markets,” Minister Flanagan said.

Minister Flanagan, who accompanied President Higgins on his State Visit to China last December, said that Irish exports to Japan had risen 4% last year, with total merchandise trade now valued at €3.5 billion, and trade in services of €3.6 billion in 2013. Product exports to ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) countries in 2014 were €1.2 billion and services exports to these countries in 2013 were €1.4 billion.

Minister Flanagan also spoke of the importance of education in fostering greater engagement between Ireland and Asian countries. “Foreign students who study in Ireland and then return home are extremely valuable for us: they spread awareness and knowledge of Ireland when they return.

“We have longstanding educational partnerships in Malaysia and our Embassy in Vietnam runs a number of initiatives to promote Ireland as an education destination. Our education system is a great asset, and one which we should be using to help to make Ireland a truly global nation.”

Speaking about EU involvement in Asia, the Minister said: “A stronger EU relationship with Asia will mean a stronger relationship between Ireland and Asia, and I will continue to work with my EU colleagues to make progress in this area.”
“Across our Government, we are determined to do we can to support and develop our relationships with all of the countries of Asia. The last 12 months have been an exciting time, and I sincerely look forward to seeing what can be done in the next 12 months”

Press Office
9 July 2015