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Taoiseach and Government Ministers travel to Korea for Team Ireland Trade Mission Week

Taoiseach and Government Ministers travel to Korea for Team Ireland Trade Mission Week

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and three Government Ministers will this week travel to Korea for a Team Ireland Trade Mission Week, a new Government approach to strengthening ties and untapping opportunities for Irish companies in like-minded countries.

Over the coming days the Taoiseach will join the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Simon Coveney, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue, and the Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris.

They will meet decision-makers and hold a series of meetings to open up new trade, investment and education links with the world’s 12th largest economy and the fourth largest economy in Asia.

Ireland has an ambitious plan to deepen our economic relationship with Korea and the broader Asia Pacific, by growing trade and investment, especially as this region remains an engine of growth for the global economy. Only last week Ireland published an updated Asia Pacific strategy, setting out our plan to deepen relationships in the region.

Ministers Coveney, McConalogue and Harris begin their programmes today (Wednesday), and Taoiseach will do so on Thursday.

Speaking ahead of the visit, the Taoiseach said:

“This month we published an updated Asia Pacific strategy, setting out an ambitious plan to deepen relationships in a region that remains an engine of global economic growth and offers mutually beneficial opportunities for trade, investment and education. The vibrant relationship between Ireland and Korea is built on shared values, growing trade and economic ties, and driving growth.

“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.

“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.”

Ministers Coveney and McConalogue will begin the programme with an Enterprise Ireland Breakfast event which will see engagement by EI clients with their in-market distributors, partners and an EI Korea Advisory Panel.

Minister Coveney said Trade Mission Week was a great opportunity for Irish companies to do business with a like-minded country:

“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.

“The EU-Korea free trade agreement provides Irish companies with access to a market of over 50 million people. A large proportion of our €5bn per year in two-way trade with Korea is business to business. There is huge scope to grow this, building on the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement, and the imminent accession of Korea to the EU research framework Horizon Europe. The possibilities are endless.

“Trade Mission Week provides a unique opportunity to directly provide trade and investment messaging to senior level attendees from major Korean conglomerates and Korean SME businesses.”

Minister McConalogue highlighted the importance of the Republic of Korea as an important market for food exporters:

“Korea is a market with significant growth potential for Irish agri-food exports. Korean consumers are sophisticated and there is a demand for the high quality, safe and sustainable agri-goods Irish farmers, fishers and food processors produce. Irish food and drink products ranging from seafood to dairy to whiskey are already on sale in Korea with agri-food exports to Korea valued at €75m in 2022.

“I will be meeting Korean buyers this week to grow this market further. This trade mission also provides a valuable opportunity to further progress Irelands market access application for beef. The Taoiseach and I will be raising this issue in our engagements with the Korean Government this week.”

As part of the Team Ireland Trade Mission Week, Minister Harris will be visiting a number of universities and meeting his counterparts to discuss the development of strong partnerships between the two countries. Minister Harris will use the opportunity to promote Ireland’s new International Education and Innovation strategy, which was approved by Government last week.

He will also announce a new Ireland-Korea English Language Student Alumni Network and Student Ambassador Scholarship scheme. The scholarship will see the successful Korean students invited to participate on an English Language course during the month of March next year at one of the participating schools to coincide with the St Patricks Day Festival.

Speaking ahead of the programme, Minister Simon Harris said:

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to travel with my Government colleagues to the Republic of Korea as part of the first ever Team Ireland Trade Mission Week. There are already many strong links and collaborations between our universities but there is space to further collaborate.

"Ireland has a unique offering to our international partners, based on an advanced economy, a native English-speaking society and a multi-cultural, inclusive and rich learning and research experience. I know that both countries have much to share and learn from one another and I look forward to exploring what more we can do to strengthen our bonds.”

Trade Mission Week Korea runs until this Friday, 3 November.