Trade board ready to open office in Shanghai as investment grows


THE Irish Trade Board has decided to open an office in Shanghai to take advantage of the enormous amount of Chinese and foreign investment flowing into China's fastest-growing city. The office should be in operation by mid-1997, according to Mr Paddy Delaney, who took up the new post on January 6th as Irish Trade Board director for the Asia-Pacific region.

"Up to now our strategy has been to concentrate on Hong Kong and Guangzhou (the neighbouring Chinese province) and we made our presence in Hong Kong because of that," Mr Delaney said by telephone from his office in Singapore.

"This has worked well but there is now massive direct foreign investment and Chinese government investment going into Shanghai."

Mr Delaney, who visited the city last week along with the Trade Board's China director, Mr Gabriel McCarrick who is based in Hong Kong, said the Trade Board would continue to maintain an office in Hong Kong and Beijing.

However the office in Shanghai, which had outpaced by far any other region and which together with its adjoining provinces had a population as big as Japan's, would give an "extra push" to Irish trade involvement in the Asia area.

The Trade Board would be encouraging Irish companies to follow the multinational investment in the manufacturing sector going into China, mostly American but also German and Japanese, Mr Delaney said.

Ireland already sold into these manufacturing units in Britain and continental Europe and into the major computer and software manufacturers in Ireland. "Why not follow it to China," said Mr Delaney.

"If we don't do it we will lose out on it." There was also an opportunity in Shanghai for Irish growth industries in key sectors such as telecommunications, building materials and software.

"We'll also be targeting some of the larger companies in Ireland that are selling into Great Britain, America and Europe but aren't really targeting Asia."

Shanghai has been designated by China as the country's future commercial and financial centre and billions of dollars of in vestment have been injected to create a new infrastructure for the suburb of Pudong - which is in effect a new city of sky-scrapers and financial centres created out of farmland.

The Irish ambassador to China, Mr Joe Hayes, in a speech in Shanghai on Friday at the opening of O'Malley's, the first Irish pub in China, said that there were a growing number of "tangible signs of the developing trade relationship between China and Ireland."

These included, among other developments, the Aer Rianta contract for the duty-free shop at Beijing airport, which opened in September. The pub-opening ceremony was performed by Mr Peter Buescher, managing director of Guinness Asia Pacific, who said that China was the second-largest beer market in the world after the United States and by the year 2000 would be the largest.