It’s in Ireland’s interest to trade more freely with Australia – minister

Mathias Cormann: Irish businesses could use Australia as way into greater Asian market

It is in both Ireland and Australia's interest to trade more freely, Australian finance minister Mathias Cormann told a delegation at a reception held by PwC as part of a trade mission.

“We are here because we’d like to do more business with you. We’re also here because we’re very keen to ensure that a future high-quality European-Australian free trade agreement will continue to allow investment flows”, Mr Cormann added.

Stressing the opportunities that exist for both countries if trade links are enhanced, the minister said that Irish business could use Australia as a bridge into the greater Asian market while Australian companies could use Ireland as a bridge to Europe.

As to the decision of the UK to leave the European Union, Mr Cormann wouldn't be drawn on the effect it has had, or will have, on the Australian economy. However, speaking to The Irish Times he conceded that "as a trading nation, it matters to us" saying that he wanted to see a "sensible outcome".


Gateway to Europe

The event, aiming to “showcase Ireland as a gateway to Europe”, welcomed over 100 business leaders from Ireland and Australia.

PwC managing partner, Feargal O’Rourke, told delegates that “there’s no better place than Ireland for you to do business in the European Union”.

While stressing the importance of a double tax agreement with Australia, Mr O’Rourke said that business and trade links will be “enhanced” between the two countries as the EU looks to open a bilateral trade agreement.

Ireland is a net exporter to Australia and in 2016 sent roughly €1.83 billion worth of goods to the country. In the same year the State imported €69 million worth of goods from Australia.

Australia is Ireland’s 12th most significant trading partner, well behind the US, the UK and Belgium.

Peter Hamilton

Peter Hamilton

Peter Hamilton is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in business