While much of my time here at Mingtiandi is spent analysing foreign investment into China, when I was invited this week to speak with Ireland’s Taoiseach Enda Kenny about the potential for Chinese investment in the emerald isle I jumped at the opportunity to learn more about what Chinese companies are doing in Europe and how Ireland is managing its policies to attract more FDI.
During a talk to a number of local and international business leaders over breakfast in Shanghai, the Taoiseach (that’s prime minister for all of us non-Gaelic speakers) stressed the benefits of Ireland’s experience providing a beachhead for US high-tech firms such as Facebook establishing European regional headquarters in the country, and the support network of high tech service firms ready to facilitate international business in Dublin and beyond.
Kenny pointed out that although Ireland was hit hard by the global financial crisis in 2008 and 2009, it has now rebounded and is growing rapidly. In February Ireland’s government unveiled a plan to create 200,000 jobs in eight years.
“For the first time in a decade we have a balance of trade surplus. We have deposits flowing back into our banks. We have very strong investment lines into the country. Our exports are booming. Confidence is returning to the Irish economy,” Kenny told the group.
When asked by reporters if he thought that China could obtain high technology by investing in Europe, Kenny affirmed, ” Yes, I do, and many of the high-tech specialists in Ireland actually offer technology that would be complementary and benefit here in China.” The Taoiseach also stressed the benefits of Ireland’s liberal tax code.
Mr Kenny was in town with Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton, leading a trade mission of 90 Irish companies, looking for opportunities to show off what Ireland has to offer for China’s rapidly globalising companies.
On the final day of the trip the two countries signed an agreement to deepen economic and trade ties. 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.
Representatives from Enterprise Ireland added that more than US$46 million worth of contracts and commitments were signed in Shanghai and Beijing during the time that the Irish delegation was in China.