Dáil Éireann - Volume 445 - 11 October, 1994

Written Answers. - Trade Visit to China.

70. Mrs. Owen asked the Minister for Tourism and Trade the benefits of his recent trade visit to China; the possibilities for Irish exporters in China; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [673/94]

Minister for Tourism and Trade (Mr. McCreevy): I assume the Deputy is referring to the trade mission which I led to Hong Kong, Guangdong and Shanghai from 12-16 September. The delegation consisted of 25 companies from a wide range of Irish industries including electronics, software, telecommunications, engineering components, technical instruments, consumer goods as well as several companies in the services sector. The main purpose of the mission was to help win new business in China and Hong Kong, and from this point of view the mission was highly successful, with the participants reporting significant new business and prospects as well as the consolidation of existing trading relationships.

[1023] My programme also included several meetings and trade presentations attended by Government and business figures in Hong Kong, Guandong and Shanghai, in the course of which I sought to deepen our trade links and raise awareness of Ireland as a modern industrialised economy and a quality trading partner with much to offer China and Hong Kong by way of goods and services.

There are certainly major opportunities for Irish businesses and services in China. The Chinese economy has seen average annual economic growth of 9 per cent per annum over the past ten years and billions of dollars in foreign investment pouring into the country. China offers particular opportunities in tradeable services such as aviation and technical consultancy, management and training, but also in the areas of construction and electronics for selected industrial products. The Special Economic Zone of Guangdong, which was the main focus of the mission, is investing heavily in upgrading its infrastructure and in the next decade will be a major purchaser of power generation, telecommunication, and construction equipment. I am particularly anxious to ensure that Irish businesses win a significant share of this growing market. Hong Kong is an important established trading partner in its own right and a key access point for Irish companies wishing to do business in China.

Irish exports to Hong Kong and China have shown encouraging growth in recent years and in 1993 we recorded a trade surplus with Hong Kong for the first time. Ireland's trade with China has been growing in recent years although we still buy far more from China than we export. My objective is to have a better balance while continuing the growth in total trade, and I am confident that the recent trade mission, together with An Bord Tráchtála's ongoing activities, will play an important part in bringing this about.