Leo Varadkar leads new kind of Irish trade mission to South Korea

Taoiseach will be joined by three other Government ministers this week in effort to boost exports and attract investment

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will join three other Government ministers in South Korea this week for a new kind of trade mission unprecedented in its scope and high-level representation. Minister for Enterprise Simon Coveney, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue, and Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris begin the visit to Seoul on Wednesday.

The Taoiseach, who will be in Seoul from Thursday and will meet President Yoon Suk-yeol, said the visit was part of a strategy to deepen relations with the Asia-Pacific region.

“Team Ireland Trade Mission Week is a new approach to promote broader trade, investment and enterprise priorities, to help Irish companies access this important Asian market, and encourage foreign direct investment into Ireland. It will also mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Ireland and the Republic of Korea,” he said.

“During the week, I will meet with President Yoon to discuss how we can strengthen our partnership. I will also raise the wide range of areas where Ireland and Korea are already working together such as climate change, global insecurity, threats to democracy and the rule of law. I will also meet the heads of Korean companies who have invested in Ireland, creating jobs and investing in communities.”


Like Ireland, South Korea saw rapid economic growth in recent decades to become a high-income country with the fourth biggest economy in Asia. Mr Coveney and Mr McConalogue will on Wednesday attend an Enterprise Ireland business breakfast in Seoul.

“As high tech and export-driven economies, Ireland and the Republic of Korea have many similarities and shared values in the international rules-based trading system, making it an important anchor point for Ireland in Asia. We’ve a number of EI client companies here to pitch to Korean companies and investors,” Mr Coveney said.

Mr McConalogue said the Korean market offered significant growth potential for Irish agri-food exports and he will seek to have the ban on Irish beef imports lifted. Mr Harris will visit universities and announce a new Ireland-Korea English language student alumni network and student ambassador scholarship scheme.

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton is China Correspondent of The Irish Times