On the occasion of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, Irish Minister Paschal Donohoe promoted Ireland’s economic vigor and cultural pride during a two-day visit to Korea last week.
Donohoe heads the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, an offshoot branched from the finance department in 2011 to cut spending and raise bureaucratic efficiency under the previous coalition government of Fine Gael and the Labour Party.
The minister visited Korea and Japan as part of the government’s St. Patrick’s Day Program, a worldwide campaign to present Ireland as an open and secure investment destination and to strengthen trade ties.
On March 14, he addressed over 40 businesspeople at a breakfast meeting through the Irish-Korean Business Network in Seoul.
“Ireland is an ideal partner for trade and investment, offering an excellent infrastructure, highly skilled multilingual workforce, support for research and development and competitive tax regime,” the minister said at the event.
Donohoe launched the Ireland-Korea Cuisine and Cultural Exchange, a promotional event organized by the Irish Food Board, Bord Bia, and the Korea Food Foundation, held at the Korean Cuisine Cultural Center throughout the week. He also attended a breakfast event with financial executives in attendance, arranged by the IDA Ireland, an industrial development authority in charge of foreign direct investment, employment, enterprise and innovation overview.
“Minister Donohoe’s presence offers an opportunity to showcase Ireland’s strengths and longstanding partnership with South Korea,” said Irish Ambassador to Korea Aingeal O’Donoghue. “Indigenous Irish companies are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their innovation and global ambition. They are very keen to forge and develop partnerships with Korean companies looking to adopt emerging technologies.”
As a gateway to the European Union market of 510 million people, Ireland is an entrepreneurial hotbed for leading global enterprises, particularly in software development, information communications technology and pharmaceutical sectors. Buoyed by strong export and domestic demand, the Irish economy grew by 5.2 percent last year, the highest rate in the EU for three consecutive years.
Since the Korea-EU Free Trade Agreement took effect in 2011, bilateral trade increased by more than 70 percent and bilateral services increased by 90 percent to $730 million. Last year, total Irish goods exports to Korea topped $1 billion and Korean goods exports to Ireland $955 million.
Around 150 Irish companies are now exporting to Korea in diverse sectors, covering food and beverage, engineering, aviation services, life sciences, ICT and digital technologies, education and financial services. Korea exports automobiles, chemicals, electronic appliances and business services to Ireland.
By Joel Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)