“Ambassador’s Message – 30 November 2012
Irish Korean Economic Relations
Today in Dublin, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will be hosting a Korean delegation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The occasion is the biennial Joint Economic Commission (JEC), a convening of trade officials to enhance bilateral economic relations. The meetings of the JEC are held alternately in Seoul and Dublin. The Irish side is led by the Director General, Trade Promotion Division, Colm Ó Floinn, assisted by our own Deputy Head of Mission, Ruth Parkin. The Korean delegation is led by
Deputy Minister for Trade, Lee Si-hyung and a team from the Ministry and the Korean Embassy in Ireland.
I am often asked about the nature of the economic relationship between our two countries. In light of the JEC’s discussions later today, and taking advantage of up-to-date information, it is a good opportunity to brief you on this aspect of our bilateral relations. Here are some key points:
Korean FDI in Ireland is extremely limited, comprising machine manufacture and financial services. It is a situation we are hoping to improve. With additional focus from Irish and Korea investment agencies, encouraged by this meeting of the JEC, I am hopeful that we can fill this gap in our economic relations.
Opportunities in Korea for Ireland’s export sector include, Food and Beverage / Seafood; Internationally Traded Services (Aviation Services, Financial Services, Other Professional Consultancy Services); Agricultural Equipment and Machinery; Semiconductors; Industrial Machinery and Equipment and Electronic Components; Clean-Tech; Life Sciences (Bio Pharma and Services, Medical Devices and Sub Supplies, Diagnostic Testing Equipment and Chemicals), Information and Communication Technology, E-Learning; Education Services (Third level education, English as a Foreign Language).
Overall, this picture is encouraging. There is a sense of Ireland and Korea both becoming increasingly aware of each other’s existence. Korea as an economic and exporting powerhouse is increasingly known in Ireland. We have some work to do to increase awareness in Korea of why Ireland is ranked so highly as a destination for Foreign Direct Investment. This is not just about our low corporate tax rate, but about our work-force, our business environment, the clustering of global companies at the cutting edge of ICT and life-sciences and the ‘eco-system’ of research and development between our universities and companies in Ireland, both FDI and indigenous.
I am convinced that Ireland and Korea can substantially enhance our bilateral relationship not just in economic terms but also in other areas: the North-South lesson sharing initiative comes to mind but culturally and academically there is much that we can share too. There are a number of projects in the pipeline next year which will serve as a useful platform for further exchanges, all the more appropriate since in 2013 we are celebrating thirty years of diplomatic relations.
Best wishes and have a good weekend,