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Ireland and China

The Chinese Premier, Mr. Li Keqiang, is paying a brief visit to Ireland on 17-18 May. It is his first visit to Ireland. Premier Li is accompanied by his wife, Professor Cheng Hong, as well as a 119-strong delegation, including a number of Chinese Government Ministers, officials, security and Chinese media.

China, with a population of 1.35 billion people and a GDP of over €8 trillion, is the world’s most populous country and set to become its largest economy.

The visit comes at a time of increasing trade between Ireland and China. Total trade between Ireland and China was worth over €8 billion in 2014.  Exports to China by Irish-owned companies increased by over 49% in 2014, while a total of 92 Irish companies employ over 10,000 people in China.

In 2014, Ireland’s agri-food exports to China were valued at approx. €620 million, an increase of 40% on 2013 and up over 140% since 2011. In fact, China is now the second-ranked destination for Irish agri-food exports, after the EU market, with a particular focus on dairy, seafood and pigmeat.  Recently, Ireland became the first EU country to have the Chinese ban on beef imports lifted; this will pave the way for Irish beef exports to a rapidly growing Chinese market.

A range of world-leading Chinese companies have strategic operations in Ireland, supported by IDA Ireland. These include:

  • Technology & Business Services – Huawei, Tencent, Lenovo, Chinasoft, SATIR, Firecomms
  • International Financial Services – Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Bank of China Aviation, China Development Bank, Bank of Communications

Education and tourism links between Ireland and China are also flourishing. This year, Irish and Chinese higher education institutions have more joint programmes, joint campuses, collaborative research agreements, student and staff exchanges and summer schools than ever before.

Visitor numbers from China to Ireland grew by 10% in 2014, to approximately 40,000 visitors. Tourism Ireland aims to boost the figure to 50,000 Chinese visitors over the coming four years.Getting to Ireland from China has never been easier with a growing range of convenient one-stop flight options via the Middle East and over major European hubs. The new British-Irish Visa scheme is also helping to make it easier for Chinese visitors to travel to Ireland. The new scheme enables visitors to travel freely between Ireland and the UK using either an Irish or a UK visa.

'Team Ireland’ recently prepared a short introductory video on Ireland for use on social media in China.

To coincide with the visit, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in collaboration with other Government Departments and State Agencies, has prepared a short infographic (see below) which aims to capture the breadth and depth of our relations with China. 

Ireland & China Infographic