Ireland’s Minister for Public Expenditure & Reform Paschal Donohoe addressed over 40 distinguished businesspeople at a breakfast meeting with the Irish-Korean Business Network this morning at the Millennium Hilton in Seoul. The minister highlighted the mutually beneficial trade and investment partnership between the countries while demonstrating Ireland’s economic strengths.
As a gateway to over 500 million people in the EU market, many of the world’s most successful global businesses have chosen Ireland as their strategic base in Europe. Today, Ireland is home to nine of the top 10 software companies, all of the top 10 Internet companies and nine of the top 10 global pharmaceutical companies.
Minister Donohoe, who is visiting Seoul on the occasion of St. Patrick’s Day, which is Ireland’s national holiday, emphasised, “Ireland is an ideal partner for trade and investment. We offer a prime investment destination with an excellent infrastructure, a highly skilled multilingual workforce, support for research and development and a competitive tax regime.”
During his two-day visit, Minister Donohoe will launch the Ireland-Korea Cuisine and Cultural Exchange, a food-focused event supported by Bord Bia (The Irish Food Board) and the Korea Food Foundation, which will run from March 14 to 19 at the Korean Cuisine Cultural Center. In addition, the minister will attend a high-level breakfast event with financial service sector executives arranged by IDA, Ireland’s investment promotion organisation. He also will address the annual St. Patrick’s Day Reception, where over 200 dignitaries from the Irish community, Korean business, government, diplomatic, and academic communities will be present, and attend a wreath laying ceremony at the memorial to the Irish dead of the Korean War.
“Minister Donohoe’s presence this week offers an opportunity to showcase Ireland’s strengths and longstanding partnership with South Korea,” remarked Ireland’s Ambassador to Korea, Her Excellency Aingeal O’Donoghue. “Indigenous Irish companies are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their innovation and global ambition, and are very keen to forge and develop partnerships with Korean companies looking to adopt emerging technologies for deployment in Korea and broader Asian markets.”
Since the Korea-EU Free Trade Agreement took effect in 2011, there has been a 71 percent increase in trade between Korea and Ireland and bilateral trade in services has increased by 90 percent to €680 million (US$724 million). In 2015, trade increased by 8 percent to €1.8 billion and this momentum has continued in 2016, when total Irish goods exports to Korea reached €980m and Korean goods exports to Ireland reached €890m.
Both countries have experienced strong export growth, and around 150 Irish companies are now exporting to Korea in diverse sectors including food and beverage, engineering, aviation services, life sciences, ICT/digital technologies, education and financial services. One example is ICON, a clinical research organization for drug development, which has over 200 employees in Korea at its research hub for Asia. On the Korean side, the Hyundai Tucson was the top-selling family vehicle in Ireland in 2016, and Korean exports of road vehicles, chemicals, appliances and business services have done well in Ireland.