Address at the Asia Matters Virtual China Ireland Business Summit
by H.E. He Xiangdong, Chinese Ambassador to Ireland
2021-05-28 16:56

Amb. Derwin, Lord Mayor Kavanagh, Mr. Dukes, Mr. Murray, Dear Friends,

It's my pleasure to meet you all at this year's China Ireland Business Summit. First, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Asia Matters for your efforts in promoting China-Ireland relations, and extend my best wishes for every success of the Summit.

The past year witnesses the unprecedented challenges of the global pandemic and economic recession. Despite such an unfavorable climate, the Chinese and Irish business leaders have been showing great resilience to overcome the adverse factors. With our joint efforts, the bilateral trade between China and Ireland has reached 18.04 billion USD in 2020, increased by 7.7%. In the first quarter of this year, the trade volume reached 5.22 billion USD, increased by 29.6% comparing with the same period of last year, and Irish export to China stood at 4.2 billion USD, increased by 24%. Now China is Ireland's largest market in Asia-Pacific and 5th largest worldwide.

While we live in an age rife with challenges, it is also an age full of hope. Looking into the future, we have every reason to believe that China-Ireland pragmatic cooperation will have a bright future. My great confidence comes from the following facts:

China will continue to unlock its market potential and create greater demand for other countries. Against the backdrop of COVID-19 challenges, China has controlled the pandemic rapidly and effectively, and its economic activities has bounced back to normal. In 2020, China's GDP expanded by 2.3% year-on-year, making China the only major economy in the world to register positive growth. In the first quarter of 2021, China's economy grew 18.3% compared with the same period of last year. With 1.4 billion people and a 400 million middle-income population, China is a huge market and the Chinese people have great demands for a greater variety of quality goods and services from across the world, which will create vast business possibilities for other countries . Earlier this month, over a dozen of Irish enterprises and organizations attended the first China International Consumer Products Expo in Hainan with high-quality Irish agri-food and beverage products.

China will continue to open up and share more opportunities for common development with other countries. China's commitment to opening-up is strong. We have fully implemented the Foreign Investment Law and its supporting rules and regulations, further cut the negative list for foreign investment, steadily eased access to the financial market, and drawn up a master plan for the development of the Hainan Free Trade Port. We will continue to support the multilateral trading system, advance trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, conclude high-standard free trade agreements with more countries, and protect the lawful rights and interests of foreign investors. The China-EU geographical indications agreement takes effect on March 1st, 2021, in which the Irish Cream and Whiskey are included. That will strengthen the competitiveness of those Irish products in the Chinese market.

At the end of last year, China and EU concluded in principle the China-EU investment agreement, which will bring further opportunities and deliver further benefits for China-Ireland investment cooperation. Now the ratification process of the agreement is suspended in the European Parliament. I'd like to emphasize that China-EU investment agreement is a balanced and win-win deal, rather than a "gift" bestowed by one side to the other. It is my hope that Irish business leaders can make more efforts to urge the European Parliament to ratify the agreement as early as possible.

China will continue to develop China-Ireland strategic partnership for mutually beneficial cooperation. Recent years have witnessed a good growth momentum in the China-Ireland relationship and new progress in our wide-ranging cooperation. In the face of COVID-19, our two countries have supported each other and carried out practical and efficient cooperation. Ireland has long been playing a leading role in building relationship with China among western countries. China always attaches great importance to growing China-Ireland relations. The new circumstances serve to expand areas for cooperation between China and Ireland. We are ready to deepen effective exchanges and cooperation, from bilateral areas such as trade, agriculture, scientific and technological innovation, people-to-people exchange, to multilateral areas such as public health, climate change, development assistance. Working together, we can make the pie of cooperation even bigger for our two peoples to benefit from, and advance the shared interests between our two countries.

Dear Friends,

This year marks the centenary of the Communist Party of China. Over the last century, the CPC has led the Chinese people to achieve a great transformation of the Chinese nation from standing up to growing rich, and to becoming stronger. China has created the miracles of rapid economic development and long-term social stability. Over the past 70 plus years since the founding of the People's Republic, China's GDP has risen from 12.3 billion USD to 15 trillion USD, China's per capita GDP has risen from less than 30 USD to over 10,000 USD. Now China is the world's second largest economy, the largest manufacturing country, the largest commodity trading nation, and the country with the largest foreign exchange in the world. Over the past four decades China has lifted 770 million people out of poverty , and achieved the poverty reduction target of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule. As pointed out by the Chairman of the EU Chamber of Commerce in China, China's economic growth will continue to account for 30% of the global growth in the next 10 years.

A right path leads to a bright future. China has come this far because the Chinese people have, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, blazed a development path that suits China's actual conditions. Consecutive polls conducted by Kennedy School of Harvard University show that the Chinese people's satisfaction with the Chinese government has exceeded 90% over ten years.

The figures speak for themselves. China's development is an opportunity for the world. China's development has been a sustained, powerful engine for global economic recovery, stability and expansion. China's remarkable achievement in poverty reduction has contributed to more inclusive global growth. And China's continuous progress in reform and opening-up has lent much momentum to an open world economy.

Dear Friends,

The Chinese and Irish economies are highly complementary to each other, and there is great potential for cooperation between both sides. China welcomes the Irish business community to be actively engaged in the key areas of China's development, including the development of a modern industrial system, new urbanization, coordinated regional development as well as green development, and to make full use of China's advantage of its super large market and its competitive strengths from supporting industries, human resources and infrastructure.

What's past is prologue. Now is the prime time for China-Ireland cooperation. It is hoped that Chinese and Irish business leaders will continuously serve as contributors of bilateral friendship and active promoters of bilateral cooperation, and pave a way of mutual understanding and cooperation for brighter future of bilateral relations. I firmly believe, with our joint efforts, China-Ireland cooperation would be pushed to a new level in various fields.

Thank you!