Ireland wants €100bn in trade with Asia-Pacific region by 2025, says Martin

Ireland’s membership of UN Security Council should help strengthen relationships in region, according to Taoiseach

Micheál Martin set out various ways in which Ireland hopes to build a presence in the Asia-Pacific region. Photograph: Julien Behal Photography/PA Wire

Micheál Martin set out various ways in which Ireland hopes to build a presence in the Asia-Pacific region. Photograph: Julien Behal Photography/PA Wire

 

Ireland’s membership of the UN Security Council should help it strengthen relationships in the Asia-Pacific region where it hopes to reach €100 billion in two-way trade by 2025, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said.

Addressing the virtual Global Asia Matters Summit on Friday, Mr Martin set out various ways in which Ireland hopes to build a presence in the region.

This includes a new consulate in Mumbai, India, and an embassy in Manila, the Philippines, planned for 2021.

State agencies have also opened new offices in several locations including Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

In January the Government adopted an Asia Pacific Strategy setting the framework for growing political and economic relationships. Greater numbers of tourists and students from Asia are also anticipated, Mr Martin said.

“Despite inevitable disruptions resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, we should take encouragement from the resilience of our bilateral trade. We are targeting €100 billion in two-way trade by 2025, and our increased presence on the ground will help to ensure that we achieve it,” he said.

“I am also hopeful that our membership of the United Nations Security Council will help further develop relationships at the highest political levels throughout the Asia-Pacific region as we take a seat in New York alongside countries like China, India and Vietnam.”

Bob Koopman, chief economist at the World Trade Organization, said although there has been an economic impact from Covid-19, the ratio of the drop in trade to GDP is smaller than it was during the financial crisis.

“The G20 members have been very, very active in providing fiscal policy support and liquidity to firms, and I think that liquidity difference is a very big influence on the resilience of trade,” he said.

Asia has benefited from these responses, and Mr Koopman said the type of products they export – from technology to furniture – has been in greater demand during the pandemic with more people working from home.

“There has been a shift from consumers spending money on services – not going to restaurants, not going to movies, not going on vacations – and those consumers that have money are spending it on these products.”

However, he said in the context of geopolitical tensions there is now a need to see an increase in Asian imports, not just in what they export.

Addressing Brexit negotiations he said an agreement would bring some certainty.

“If they don’t have agreement that raises uncertainty, [and] uncertainty tends to have a negative effect on economic activity,” he said.