by Zhang Qi
DUBLIN, July 31 (Xinhua) -- The upcoming China International Import Expo (CIIE) is an important global event that demonstrates China's intention to further open its market and to promote international trade and cooperation, said Heather Humphreys, Irish Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation.
The minister made the remarks in an email received by Xinhua on Tuesday while offering comments on the first edition of the CIIE which is to be held in China's eastern coastal city of Shanghai on Nov. 5-10.
"For an open, global, trading economy this offers a valuable opportunity for Irish companies to grow their appreciation for the opportunities that exist in the Chinese marketplace," she said.
"I plan to lead a significant trade mission from Ireland to China and to attend the CIIE in November. I believe this will be a valuable opportunity to further deepen Ireland's trade cooperation with China," she added.
It is learned that over 20 Irish companies have so far confirmed their participation in the upcoming CIIE in Shanghai.
Commenting on the bilateral trade between Ireland and China, the minister said that "Overall trade trends between Ireland and China are indeed very positive; two-way trade between Ireland and China doubled in the years from 2013 to 2017, reaching over 15 billion euros last year."
The 2017 Ireland-China trade statistics quoted by the minister included the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao, which are higher than the official statistics announced by the Chinese side that only covered the Chinese mainland.
"Our ambition is to build upon this success in the years ahead," Heather Humphreys.
According to the minister, Enterprise Ireland, an Irish state agency responsible for the development and growth of Irish companies in world markets, intends to double its client companies' exports to China by the year 2020.
Enterprise Ireland is a government body affiliated to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation headed by Heather Humphreys. Currently Enterprise Ireland has over 300 client companies exporting to China and China is the seventh largest market for Enterprise Ireland client exports, according to Heather Humphreys.
The Chinese government attaches greater importance to innovation, greentech, research and technology in future development and these are areas where Irish companies excel and are rapidly expanding, said the minister.
"China's One Belt One Road Initiative is opening up the potential for even stronger trade links and connectivity between Ireland and China. We welcome the initiative which is complementary to much of our existing cooperation in the area of trade and investment," she said.
The minister believed that the recent commencement of direct flight services between the Irish capital Dublin and the Chinese cities of Beijing and Hong Kong will undoubtedly help to foster growing trade, tourism, education and cultural links between Ireland and China.
On June 12, China's Hainan Airlines opened a direct flight service between Beijing and Dublin shortly after the Hong Kong-registered Cathay Pacific opened a direct flight route between Hong Kong and Dublin in early June. Prior to these, there were no direct flight services between Ireland and China.
It is believed that the two direct flight routes opened between Ireland and China will greatly facilitate the economic, cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.
Following the opening of the two direct flight routes, Tourism Ireland announced that it plans to increase the number of the Chinese visitors to the island of Ireland from an estimated 70,000 in 2017 to 175,000 by the year 2025.
"We are committed to sustaining and further advancing Ireland's presence in China as our relationship grows and develops in the years ahead," said Heather Humphreys.
It is learned that the Irish side is planning to launch an Ireland Night event at the upcoming expo in Shanghai to intensify the promotion of the Irish image among the Chinese customers.