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Investment

Interview: China is important source for Ireland's FDI, says senior official

May 10, 2019


Abstract : China is an extraordinarily important source for Ireland's foreign direct investment (FDI), said a senior official in charge of the country's FDI during an interview with Xinhua.

Martin Shanahan, CEO of Industrial Development Authority (IDA) Ireland, addresses a seminar in Dublin, Ireland, May 8, 2019. China is an extraordinarily important source for Ireland's FDI, said Martin Shanahan during an interview with Xinhua on Wednesday after addressing the seminar organized by a local think tank AsiaMatters. (Xinhua)

DUBLIN, May 9 (Xinhua) -- China is an extraordinarily important source for Ireland's foreign direct investment (FDI), said a senior official in charge of the country's FDI during an interview with Xinhua.

"We have enjoyed excellent partnership with Chinese companies over many years," said Martin Shanahan, CEO of IDA (Industrial Development Authority) Ireland, a government-sponsored body responsible for attracting FDI into Ireland, here on Wednesday, after addressing a seminar organized by a local think tank AsiaMatters on the growing strategic importance of Asia in the future development of Ireland's FDI.

"There are 25 Chinese companies which have already invested in Ireland. The Chinese investment is a key part of the strategy of IDA Ireland. Under our new strategy, now we plan to focus even more on Chinese investment into Ireland," he said.

According to Shanahan, the Chinese companies in Ireland currently employ more than 900 people, a figure lower than the 2,000-plus number announced by the Chinese embassy in Ireland last year. The IDA figure may only refer to Irish citizens while the Chinese companies in Ireland also employ some non-Irish nationals.

The Chinese companies in Ireland are mainly engaged in sectors of technology and financial services, said Shanahan, adding that all the top six Chinese banks, including the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and Bank of China, have established their presence in the country, mostly engaged in the aircraft leasing business.

"We have seen the continuous expansion of Huawei in Ireland and the Bank of China which set up a Dublin branch in 2017, the first commercial operation ever set up by Chinese banks in Ireland," he said.

Up till last year, said the CEO, "we have also seen the expansion of the Chinese companies into the fields of pharmaceuticals and biologics. Some very significant wins are seen in these areas, particularly WuXi Biologics which has announced a 325-million-euro (about 365 million U.S. dollars) investment into a biopharmaceuticals manufacturing plant in Dundalk."

According to Shanahan, the Chinese investment in Dundalk, a city in northeast Ireland, is expected to create hundreds of local jobs.

It is Shanahan's belief that China as well as other growth markets in the world will play a significant role in IDA's new strategy to re-balance the country's FDI portfolio.

The United States has been a major source of FDI for Ireland for many years, accounting for about 72 percent of the country's FDI in 2015 and 2016.

"Like any business, if you are looking at your portfolio and you are heavily relying on one source you would be concerned," said Shanahan, adding that the first thing he did after becoming the CEO of IDA in 2014 was to develop a new strategy for FDI in Ireland.

Last year, the share of U.S. investment in Ireland's total FDI dropped to 65 percent while the most rapidly growing part of the FDI portfolio in Ireland was the growth markets dominated by Asia, which has increased by 25 percent since 2014.

While Ireland continues to foster its ties and grow its partnership with the United States, it will "focus on where the growth will be," he said, adding "All projections indicate that we should heavily focus in Asia."

"We continue to see opportunity in China. It is a significant focus for IDA. Our focus will be to deepen the ties we have established with the Chinese companies and also expand the sectors where we can attract more Chinese investment," noted Shanahan.

At the seminar which drew about 50 people including representatives from some leading Asian companies and embassies of some Asian countries in Ireland, Shanahan also expressed his concern about rising protectionism in global trade.

"Anything that impedes global trade is not good for Ireland and it has the potential to impact Ireland's ability to woo FDI and to trade with the rest of the world," he said.

Ireland, as one of the most globalized economies in the world, will continue to voice its support for trade globalization and promote the idea of rules-based international trading system, Shanahan pledged.

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