The Shannon Free Zone has signed an official accord for economic cooperation with a Chinese equivalent, the China (Shanghai ) Pilot Free Trade Zone (SHFTZ ).
The Memorandum of Understanding, signed last week in Shanghai, will provide a basis for exploring opportunities of mutual economic benefit between the two free trade zones, including encouraging companies in both zones to look at the other as a potential investment base.
It is the latest Irish initiative in the ongoing strengthening of economic ties between the two nations, following on from the signing of a wide-ranging agreement to boost ties between the Irish and Chinese governments in 2014.
The Shannon Free Zone is the largest business park in the portfolio of Shannon Commercial Properties (SCP ), a business unit of the Shannon Group. Shannon Group also comprises Shannon Airport, Shannon Heritage and the International Aviation Services Cetnre (IASC ), which is charged with building on the existing cluster of 50 plus aerospace businesses operating in the Shannon Free Zone. The 600 acre business park is currently home to over 120 companies employing approximately 7,000 people.
China (Shanghai ) Pilot Free Trade Zone covers 28.78 square kilometers in total and comprises the Lujiazui financial hub, the Jinqiao manufacturing zone, the Zhangjiang high-tech base and the three bonded areas of Waigaoqiao, Yangshan and Pudong International Airport. It was established in 2013 and since then has carried out institutional reform and innovation in areas of investment, foreign trade, finance and post-filing supervision to form a legal framework for investment and trade within the zone.
The MOU is the high point to date in relations between the two free trade zones, which first engaged one year ago when IASC Managing Director and Shannon Group Strategy Director Patrick Edmond and Shannon Commercial Properties and Managing Director of Shannon Commercial Properties Ray O’Driscoll hosted officials from its Chinese equivalent with a view to exploring opportunities for co-operation. Potential for the MOU was also advanced last autumn in a visit by the two Shannon Group representatives to Shanghai.
Speaking following his return from the MOU singing in Shanghai, Shannon Group Strategic Director Patrick Edmond said, “We are delighted to have signed this strategic agreement with the China (Shanghai ) Pilot Free Trade Zone. The Shannon Free Zone has a very strong resonance in China given that special economic zones across the country are based on the Shannon Free Zone model. We are at very early stages but the agreement gives us a template to work on and both sides are very much committed to this. There are many synergies between the two zones, not least in terms of sectors of mutual interest. Aviation is one of these and we will certainly be hoping to attract Chinese aviation investment here.
“The geographies also offer huge opportunities, with Shanghai a gateway to the growing Chinese economy and likewise Shannon being a potential gateway for Shanghai companies into Europe. We are looking forward to developing this relationship for mutual benefit.”
For its part, SHFTZ will encourage its companies to consider the Shannon Free Zone as a location when they look for investment base in both Ireland and Europe. It will provide Shannon Free Zone cross-border e-commerce services to its companies, encourage them to support an experimental program of streamlining regulation with the Shannon Free Zone as a goods transshipment base for cross-border e-commerce. It will also seek to support cooperation between the Shannon Free Zone and other free zones.