Tánaiste discusses exports with Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai

The Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore this week welcomed Mr Ma Kai, Vice Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, to Ireland, at a meeting at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The Tánaiste said:  “Following my political and trade mission to China in August, this meeting with Vice Premier Ma is an important opportunity to advance our relations with a key global player, and a country that is a vital market for Irish goods and services.  I briefed the Vice Premier on Ireland’s forthcoming exit from the EU-IMF bailout, and prospects for growth and investment in the Irish economy.”

Gilmore also raised the issue of access for Irish beef to the Chinese market. He welcomed China’s agreement to hold the first meeting next month of an official working group of Irish and Chinese officials to progress outstanding issues related to beef access. The Tánaiste said he was hopeful that progress can be made on re-opening the Chinese market to quality Irish beef. In August, the Tánaiste secured full market access for Irish salmon exports during a political and trade mission to Beijing and Shanghai.

The Tánaiste and Vice Premier Ma also discussed opportunities to increase bilateral trade and investment, and review the Strategic Partnership agreed by both countries in 2012. Total annual trade between Ireland and China amounts to almost €8 billion, with a trade surplus in Ireland’s favour. Worldwide Irish exports of agricultural and food products increased by 93% between 2010 and 2012.

Following the meeting, the Tánaiste hosted an official dinner for Vice Premier Ma and thirteen Irish Enterprise Ireland, Bord Bia, IDA, and Tourism Ireland client companies who are active in the Chinese market.

Ireland does not currently export beef to China because of Chinese concerns about BSE which date back to an EU-wide ban in 2000. Ireland has been working with the Chinese to have this ban lifted and agreed last year to establish a Joint Working Group on market access for Irish beef. The first meeting of this group will take place in the week of 25 November, when a delegation from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine will visit Beijing.

Mr Ma is the most senior Chinese leader to visit Ireland since President Xi Jinping, who visited Ireland as Vice-President in February 2012. His primary responsibility is for economic policy and he oversees the People’s Bank of China (Central Bank). This is his first visit to Ireland and follows his co-hosting of the fourth China-EU High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue in Brussels.