Written Answers. - International Trade.

John Perry

Question:

38 Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if opportunities to advance Ireland's interests in Korea and Japan have been found on the back of the World Cup. [15008/02]

As Minister for Foreign Affairs, I attach the utmost importance to the promotion of foreign earnings and to advancing Ireland's interests abroad. It is one of the highest priorities of my Department and of Ireland's diplomatic missions. The Department recognised from an early stage that the Irish team's participation in the World Cup represented an ideal opportunity to raise awareness of Ireland in Asia, which is one of the key objec tives of the Government's Asia Strategy. The successes of the Irish team and the enthusiastic participation of the thousands of Irish fans have had, as expected, a major impact in raising Japanese and Korean media and public awareness of Ireland.

In Japan the Embassy in Tokyo worked closely with the Japanese media and was involved in the organisation of a series of seminars, speeches, trade and musical and cultural events in Niigata, Kashima and Yokohama, the venues for the first round. In many instances these events were organised in conjunction with local authorities and Japanese supporters' groups. The Ambassador and the staff of the Embassy also briefed the press and gave interviews on Ireland to a wide-range of newspapers, magazines and television programmes. There was intense media interest in Ireland and extensive coverage of the Irish team and supporters during the first round and for Ireland's second round match in Korea. The Embassy will be building on this general interest in the period ahead, and already a number of Japanese journalists are planning articles inspired by their exposure to Ireland during the World Cup.

The Embassy also worked closely with Bord Bia and with Tourism Ireland on the organisation of a major promotion of Ireland on 5 June, the day of the Ireland v Germany match. Some 150 business and media contacts and representatives of the Japanese food and travel trades attended presentations on the food and drinks sector and on Irish tourism, followed by Irish music and a pre-match meal in Kashima, Ibaraki.

There were similar promotional opportunities in Korea. The Embassy in Seoul used the World Cup as a platform for the promotion of Ireland and Irish business in Korea. During advance visits to all the possible venues, the Ambassador and staff of the Embassy met with city mayors, provincial governors, chambers of commerce and local newspapers. They used every available opportunity to promote knowledge of Ireland and Irish business and to explore the potential for future cooperation. The Ambassador and his staff invited key Korean business contacts to the game between Ireland and Spain in Suwon and a number of Irish companies participated in an Embassy-sponsored promotional stand at the World Cup Nation's Day Festival.

As part of the general awareness raising, Japanese and Korean versions of the Departmental booklet Ireland in brief were distributed before and during the World Cup to build on the increased interest. Overall, Ireland's participation in the World Cup served as an excellent promotional tool and greatly furthered the objective of raising awareness of Ireland, not only in Asia but around the world.