Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman welcomes new missions to harness potential of emerging markets

January 21st, 2014 - Pat Breen

The Chairman of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade Pat Breen TD has this afternoon welcomed the announcement by Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Eamon Gilmore to expand Ireland’s embassy network. This morning, the Tánaiste proposed new embassies in Bangkok, Jakarta, Nairobi and Zagreb and consulates in Austin, Texas, in the US, Hong Kong and Sao Paulo.
In a Report agreed in December, the Committee specifically called for new Irish diplomatic missions to be considered in emerging high-potential markets in Asia, in capitals such as Jakarta and Bangkok, as well as a new consulate in Texas. The Report, entitled The Contribution of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to Economic Recovery, commends the strength of the Embassy network in trade and inward investment promotion.
The Report also acknowledges the Department’s role in the restoration of Ireland’s economic reputation, the reinforcement of confidence worldwide in Ireland’s economic recovery and the consolidation of Ireland’s international standing. It is based on a wide-ranging series of hearings in 2012 and 2013, in which industry and exporters’ representatives reported a very positive experience of the work of the diplomatic service and welcomed the conferring of additional responsibilities on it in relation to trade.

Other recommendations include that:
· Defence of the 12.5% corporation tax rate, and ensuring that Ireland’s policy and practice in relation to corporate taxation is fully and accurately understood internationally, remain a central part of the work of the Department;
· St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, which provide a unique and ever-growing opportunity for reputational and economic benefit, continue to be used to the full;
· The Global Irish Network be engaged to optimum effect in trade and investment promotion, noting that many members of the Network acted as advocates in last year’s major and highly successful tourism promotion, The Gathering;
· The Embassy network, in association with the State Agencies, has the resources to support continued economic promotion in traditional markets such as the UK, and
· As new regions of the US become centres of industry, and therefore sources of investment, the establishment of a further Consulate-General in Texas, in Houston or in Austin, be considered.
Chairman of the Committee Pat Breen TD says: “Over the past year and a half, we have engaged with a wide range of actors from the Department itself, from the State Agencies, Chambers of Commerce, Employers’ and Exporters’ organisations, and farmers’ representatives. We wanted to be sure that the unique resource offered by the Embassy network was used to best effect, in association with the relevant State Agencies, in trade and tourism promotion and in attracting foreign investment, as well as in restoring Ireland’s reputation. The task has given the Committee Members an excellent insight into the whole process of economic promotion. It has also impressed on us the importance of reputation, for which our Embassies have a special responsibility.
“This wide-ranging stakeholder engagement has confirmed that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, following strategic adjustments, is well equipped for its task, and that the Embassies are regarded as effective partners by the State Agencies and the private sector in economic promotion. Given that our diplomatic network is much smaller than those of many countries of comparable size and economic strength, we specifically considered whether the Department should add to its network, particularly in fast-growing Asian countries. The announcement this morning by the of Tánaiste five new embassies and three new consulates, to be established in locations across South East Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas, is to be warmly welcomed. ”
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