China’s consumer market has a lot of scope for trade and investment: Ambassador of Ireland

Editor's Note:

On the occasion of the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Ireland and China, Ireland has been nominated as the Country of Honour at the 4th China International Consumer Products Expo (CICPE), which will be held in South China's Hainan Province from April 13 to 18. The expo is also the first major international expo held in China this year, showcasing China's determination to open up and share opportunities with the world.

Global Times reporter Qi Xijia interviewed Ann Derwin, Ambassador of Ireland to China, to discuss the highlights of Ireland's participation in the CICPE, China's consumption market and opening-up, and the outlook on China-Ireland trade ties.

GT: As Ireland participates as the guest of honor at the CICPE this year, what are your expectations for this event?

Ann Derwin: Expos such as the CICPE are wonderful opportunities to promote Ireland and what it has to offer, and are excellent platforms for Irish companies to introduce themselves to Chinese consumers. Quite a few Irish companies return again and again to these Expos, which signals how valuable and important they consider them to be.

Ireland will have a 500 sqm National Pavilion, showcasing Irish products including food and drink, fashion, education, culture, tourism, and life sciences. Twenty-nine Irish companies, with 50 brands, will participate in the Irish National Pavilion, as will all of Team Ireland in China - the Embassy, Bord Bia, Tourism Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland. The pavilion itself is based upon Ireland's rich history, with an ancient castle being the highlight. There are over 30,000 castles and castle ruins in the Emerald Isle, with the oldest dating back to the 11th century. Similar to China, Ireland has a history going back 5,000 years ago with Newgrange, one of the most extraordinary passage graves constructed, being older than the Pyramids.

There will be a number of performances throughout our time here of Irish dancing, cookery and whiskey tasting.

The Embassy will also arrange events such as an Irish culture night, a fashion show, a life sciences seminar, a new products launch, a procurement matchmaking event, and a launch ceremony for recently-commenced direct flights from China to Ireland.

GT: How do you view the potential of the Chinese consumption market?

Ann Derwin: China's consumer market is one of the biggest in the world, and somewhere we see a lot of scope for trade and investment. Relations between Ireland and China go from strength to strength, and there is enormous potential for growing our economic and trade relations further. At our Pavilion, you will see an attractive cross-section of promotional units from agriculture and food, fashion, higher education, tourism, life sciences and more. These demonstrate only some of the many areas of possible future cooperation.

There is much investment by Chinese companies in Ireland, and Irish companies in China, and we fully intend to seize all possible opportunities to grow this. Ireland is an especially attractive destination for Chinese companies to invest and do business in - due to our highly-educated English-speaking and dynamic workforce, our strengths in R&D and high-tech industries, our favourable tax system, our membership of the EU and Eurozone and access to a market of over 450 million consumers.

GT: What is your opinion on China's opening-up policies and measures to stabilize foreign investment, and how do you think they will positively impact economic and trade cooperation between the two countries?

Ann Derwin: I believe that China has excellent development prospects, and Ireland hopes to continue to be very much a part of China's trade with the rest of the world. Much of China's new productive forces include those key to the green transition - something where China has a lot to offer the world and where Ireland sees scope for much cooperation.

We anticipate strengthened cooperation in many areas as we celebrate the anniversary of diplomatic relations between Ireland and China this year. Already this year we have had a visit to China by our Minister for Finance, Michael McGrath, to mark St Patrick's Day last month, and of course we very much welcomed the visit to Ireland by Chinese Premier Li Qiang in January. Visits like this offer a valuable opportunity to reconnect, discuss issues of importance and deepen our cooperation in key areas.

GT: This year marks the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. In which areas do you believe both countries can further strengthen economic and trade cooperation and investment?

Ann Derwin: This year does indeed mark the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Ireland. The ties between Ireland and China are strong across many sectors. Our two countries already have strong cooperation in the areas of trade, agriculture, education and culture.

There is enormous potential for further growing economic and trade relations between Ireland and China. For example, many of the areas where cooperation is possible are represented at our Pavilion at the CICPE; life sciences, agriculture and food, fashion, higher education, tourism, and more. These demonstrate only some of the many areas of possible future development.

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