Dáil Éireann - Volume 598 - 24 February, 2005
Written Answers. - Official Engagements.
Mr. Quinn Mr. Quinn
27. Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will make a statement on the outcome of his recent official visit to China; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6172/05]
Mr. Cuffe Mr. Cuffe
41. Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will report on his visit to China; his views on whether the political situation in China, including the denial of human rights and the lack of democratisation, is endangering political stability and, therefore, Irish investments in China; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6218/05]
Ms Enright Ms Enright
50. Ms Enright asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his assessment of the recent trade mission to China; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6190/05]
Mr. Allen Mr. Allen
85. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the value to Ireland of trade with China; if he will report on the contracts entered into during the recent trade mission to China; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2630/05]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Mr. Martin:I propose to take Questions Nos. 27, 41, 50 and 85 together.
Between 17 and 25 January 2005, I accompanied the Taoiseach, Deputy Bertie  Ahern, on an official visit and trade mission to China. The Ministers for Education and Science, Agriculture and Food and Communications, Marine and Natural Resources also participated.
The trade mission was the largest in the history of the State, involving in total 121 Irish companies and educational institutions primarily involved in the ICT, educational services, environmental and engineering services, medical devices and food and drinks sectors.
During the mission, a memorandum of understanding was signed with the Chinese Government concerning mutual co-operation and development in software and a joint statement on education was issued. A protocol concerning the opening of trade in pork was also signed.
The total value of contracts signed between Irish suppliers and Chinese customers in the course of the mission totalled €125.8 million. In addition, four Irish companies — Kerry Group, AIL, EPS, PUCA — signed investment contracts worth €46.8 million.
During the trade mission, over 1,800 meetings were held by the Irish participants with potential and existing customers. I expect that these contacts, and the follow-up which the participating companies will undertake, will lead to substantial additional commercial gains in the future.
In Beijing, business agreement contracts to a total value of €38.5 million were signed. In addition, agreements in the education sector to the value of €31.4 million were signed.
In Shanghai, business agreement contracts to a total value of €39 million were signed, and additional agreements within the education sector to the value of €6 million were signed.
In Hong Kong, business and education sector agreements were signed amounting to €10.9 million in total.
Trade between Ireland and China-Hong Kong is currently worth €4.8 billion a year — an increase of 24% on 2003. The CSO estimates that Irish exports to China in 2004 increased by 9% last year over 2003, from €585 million to €639 million, while exports to Hong Kong increased from €688 million to €833 million. More than 250 Irish companies are currently doing business in China and Hong Kong and many have well-established partnerships and business alliances with local companies.
In the course of the visit, the Taoiseach announced that it is the Government’s intention to double the value of trade between Ireland and China by 2010. Based on emerging trends and projections, the Government is confident that this can be realised, or even surpassed. In the interim all Government Departments, State and private entities involved will be co-operatively working to that end.
During the mission, I met a number of representatives from companies which have invested  in China and they expressed a general satisfaction with their experience.
While recognising that democracy and respect for human rights in China are not at the level we would wish, the Government takes the approach of seeking to encourage the Chinese authorities to continue to move in a positive direction. This approach, which situates human rights issues and questions of democratisation within a broad dialogue on matters of mutual concern, is shared by other European and North American governments and is, I believe, the approach most likely to yield tangible long-term progress on these issues, thus leading to greater stability in China.
Question No. 28 answered with Question No. 14.
Dáil Éireann 598 Written Answers. Official Engagements.