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Minister Flanagan outlines new Economic Diplomacy Strategy

Culture, Ireland, Irish Abroad, Minister Charles Flanagan, Trade, Press Releases, Ireland, 2016



- Keynote address to over 150 Agency and Industry Leaders
- Commercial Attachés to be placed in Embassies

Mr Charles Flanagan TD, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, has unveiled a new economic diplomacy strategy to be spearheaded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and its 80 strong embassy network.

Addressing a gathering of over 150 business leaders at an event in Iveagh House this evening (Tuesday), the Minister set out the key role which economic diplomacy has and continues to play in Ireland’s economic recovery and in driving Ireland’s economic resilience and sustainable prosperity.  Minister Simon Harris was also in attendance.

Minister Flanagan stated:

“The Government’s goal is to keep the recovery going and to spread its positive effects around the country.  This year, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is further developing its approach to supporting Ireland’s trade promotion activities.”

Activity is being stepped-up in three important areas:

  • establishing a three-tiered market promotion fund to give our embassies more capacity and autonomy to pursue trade and wider promotional opportunities;
  • an increased flow of critical data on our exporting sectors and companies; and 
  • a pilot programme of locally-hired commercial attachés.

The Minister continued:

“This new approach will further enhance the value proposition for the Irish taxpayer of the 80 locations of Ireland’s Embassy network and will augment the already important work that the Department and Embassy network undertakes to promote Irish business and trade.  

“It is widely accepted that embassies are particularly effective at opening doors for Irish businesses overseas and for providing important advice and networking opportunities for companies trying to break into new markets.  Economic diplomacy is a critical part of our country’s exporting trade success.  Our diplomats work closely with all State agencies and coordination is enhanced by the Export Trade Council which I chair.

"I believe there is an opportunity for Irish embassies to become even more active in assisting Irish exporting companies overseas and this year we will begin a process of upskilling with the ultimate aim of securing Ireland’s economic resilience and sustainable prosperity for all of the people of Ireland”.



Press Office

19 January 2016

Notes to editors:

Read Minister Flanagan's speech on our website:  

About the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
The Embassy network of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is in 80 locations across the globe. In 2014 the Government announced the expansion of the Embassy network which saw Embassies established for the first time in the fast-growing economies of Thailand (Bangkok) and Indonesia (Jakarta). Consulates General were also established in the financial and business hubs of Hong Kong (China) and Sao Paulo (Brazil), and in the booming tech hub of Austin, Texas (USA).
In Dublin, the Trade Division is tasked with “Enabling Ireland’s Economic Diplomacy through effective coordination, mobilisation and communication of Government policies and resources”. The Trade Division drives the Department’s trade promotion role. Its functions include the coordination of the Export Trade Council, the Joint Economic Commissions with China, Korea, Russia and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Government’s Promoting Ireland St Patrick’s Day Programme. Over the course of the 2015 St Patrick’s Day period the Embassy Network, working in cooperation with the State Agencies facilitated:
• 149 high-level political meetings
• 29 trade-focused high level visits across 70 cities in 26 countries
• 148 business events involving over 18,000 Irish and international company representatives
• 180 ‘Greenings’ of iconic buildings and landmarks around the world
The Trade Division also coordinates the Department’s activities to support the promotion of Irish culture abroad through the Embassy Network.
About the Export Trade Council
The Export Trade Council (ETC), which is chaired by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charles Flanagan, T.D, was established in 2011 in order to strengthen cooperation and coordination across all relevant Government Departments and State agencies involved in the promotion of trade, tourism and inward investment.
The ETC oversees the implementation of the Government Trade, Tourism and Investment Strategy, ‘Trading and Investment in a Smart Economy’, which was published in 2010. The Strategy sets out targets for trade, tourism and investment to be met by the end of 2015, as well as a programme of actions conducive to achieving these targets. Following a Government decision taken on January 17, 2013, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was tasked with coordinating a short, focused review of the Strategy, in close cooperation with the relevant State agencies and Government Departments. This Review was launched on 24 February, 2014.
The current members of the Council include: Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charles Flanagan T.D., Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, T.D., Minister for Agriculture, Food, the Marine and Defence, Simon Coveney, T.D., Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe, T.D., Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan, T.D., and Minister of State for Development, Trade Promotion, and North-South Cooperation, Seán Sherlock, T.D.
The heads of the State agencies that work closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Embassy network in promoting trade, tourism, investment and education are also represented on the Council: Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Bord Bia, Tourism Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland.
The private sector is also represented on the Council by IBEC and the Irish Exporters Association, as well as by a number of business people with a track record in the relevant sectors.