The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe T.D. will this week visit South Korea as part of the Government’s St Patrick’s Day Programme, after which he will visit Japan – for St. Patrick’s Day – where he will celebrate the 60th anniversary of Irish-Japanese diplomatic relations.
As a key partner for Ireland in Asia, the Minister’s visit to Korea will strengthen this partnership in a number of areas and highlight the potential for further business opportunities. Like Ireland, Korea has an export-driven economy, and trade between the two countries is increasing rapidly. Medical technology, pharmaceuticals, ICT, agri-food and the education sector are just some of the growing sectors. In 2016, total Irish goods exports to Korea reached €980m; an increase of some 70% on 2015. And total trade in goods and services between the two countries increased to €1.8bn in 2015. There are also over 200 Irish companies active in the Korean market.
Minister Donohoe said: ‘There are many strands to the relationship including shared global challenges, rapidly growing trade and business links, growing connections in the education sector, and cultural and historic connections. With global changes taking place that are leading to increased uncertainty, it is vital that we continue to connect with other countries and to send a strong, clear message that Ireland, as a small open economy, is open for business. The St. Patrick’s Day Programme presents an unrivalled opportunity to do that’.
The range of developing trade links between Korea and Ireland is reflected in the wide-ranging business-focussed programme for the Minister’s visit. This includes an address the Irish Korean Business Network; a group comprised of Irish businesses in Korea, and Korean firms doing business with Irish companies or with an interest in doing so. Minister Donohoe will also see first-hand the activities of indigenous Irish firms with visits to the local partner of an Enterprise Ireland client company in the education content sector, as well as a meeting with the local office of an Irish tech firm which is growing its business in Korea.
Further meetings will be held with senior executives from IDA target companies in the biotech sector and the Minister will promote the Irish international financial services sector at a round table meeting with senior executives of Korean banking and financial services firms. The Minister will go on to meet the Chair of the Korea International Trade Association, one of Korea’s leading business associations, as well as with the Korean First Vice Minister for Finance for a discussion on economic developments in Ireland and Korea and broader international issues.
In respect of public events, the Minister will address to students at Yonsei University, one of Korea’s top universities, and an address to 200 guests at the St Patrick’s Day Reception in Seoul. He will also launch the Irish-Korean Cuisine and Cultural Exchange, a major food promotion event supported by Bord Bia, and the Korean Food Foundation. Irish food and drink exports to Korea have risen significantly, from €24m in 2012 to €40.7m in 2015 with seafood, pigmeat and dairy the most prominent elements.
The Minister will also lay a wreath at the Memorial to those of Irish birth and heritage who died in the Korean War together with the Minister of Patriots and Veterans Affairs of Korea, Mr Park Sung Choon.