Galway could benefit greatly if increased efforts were made to engage with China, according to Fine Gael Senator for Galway West Fidelma Healy Eames who this week called on Ireland to act as a launch pad for Chinese businesses in Europe.
Speaking from Brussels on Tuesday where she is the only Irish parliamentarian at the EU-China summit, Senator Healy Eames said: “We need to prioritise attracting foreign direct investment (FDI ) from China into Ireland in order to attract investment here and create jobs. You only have to look at how Ireland has worked so well as a European base for international businesses to see how we could benefit Chinese companies. We have a highly educated young population and are the only English speaking country in the Eurozone. This should be our calling card and should define how we identify Ireland to the Chinese business audience.
“Galway has engaged in a friendship agreement with the Chinese city of Qing Dao which we are very keen to further. For example Galway port development and expansion is one project which could benefit from Chinese investment. China has a history of investing in ports including its recent investment in the Port of Rotterdam, the largest in the world.
“I strongly supported Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn, in his decision to include Chinese language and culture on the proposed new Junior Cert syllabus. This move is a clear recognition of the increasing importance of China in the global economy. I am glad that our young people will be given the opportunity to learn the language and ways of this emerging giant.
“Ireland’s future economic growth will have to be more firmly aimed at China and Asia. There is a clear public interest in promoting increased trade links with China. Putting China on the agenda for our business community and our young people is very important in this respect. Likewise we need to put Ireland more firmly on China’s business radar.”