Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Questions (25)

Billy Kelleher

Question:

25. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the official foreign visits he or his Ministers of State have planned to the end of 2013; the proposed dates for these visits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41199/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Delivering an intensive programme of Ministerial-led trade missions is a key commitment in the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs in 2013. The number of Ministerial-led Enterprise Ireland trade missions conducted with the active support of the Embassy network has more than doubled over the past two years, up from eight in 2011 to eighteen this year. I undertook a political and trade mission to China (Beijing and Shanghai) from 30 July to 3 August 2013, at the invitation of the Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi. The purpose of my visit was to strengthen the high-level political engagement necessary to deliver on the Strategic Partnership Agreement between Ireland and China. I also had a series of engagements focussed on supporting Irish companies doing business in China, promoting Ireland as a tourist destination, and promoting Ireland as the best investment location for Chinese businesses looking to expand in Europe. I will travel to London in November to speak at an Enterprise Ireland Financial Services Networking event.

My colleague, Minister of State for Trade and Development Joe Costello, will lead an Enterprise Ireland Trade Mission to South Africa and Nigeria from 10 – 16 November. I visited New York from 24 to 29 September to participate in the General Assembly of the United Nations and to deliver an address to that body on Irish foreign policy priorities. The Minister of State for Trade and Development, Joe Costello T.D. also travelled to New York from 21 to 26 September to participate in the General Assembly and attend events relating to the global development agenda. As outgoing Chair-In-Office of the OSCE, I hope to attend the OSCE Ministerial Council in Kyiv, Ukraine in December.

My colleague, Minister of State for European Affairs Paschal Donohoe, is scheduled to attend the plenary of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly in London on 21 October. He will also represent the Government at the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) Foreign Ministers’ meeting in New Delhi, India, on 11-12 November, where he will have a number of bilateral meetings and engagements.

My colleague, Minister of State for Trade and Development Joe Costello, is planning an official humanitarian visit to the Middle East 6 – 11 October. The visit will involve a short stay in Beirut, Lebanon to visit refugee camps hosting Palestinian refugees from Syria. From Lebanon, the Minister of State will travel to the West Bank and Occupied Palestinian Territories where he will monitor humanitarian and development programmes funded by Irish Aid and managed by our Representative Office in Ramallah. In addition, he will accompany the President on a State visit to Central America from 19 October to 2 November. A visit to Uganda later this year is being considered.

I attended an informal meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Vilnius on 6-7 September, where discussions covered security and defence issues, Syria and the Middle East Peace Process. I anticipate that I will attend EU Foreign Affairs Council meetings in Luxembourg in October, and Brussels in November and December. My colleagues will be similarly engaged on EU matters and will attend meetings as follows:

Minister of State Donohoe

Paris, 7 October, meeting with Minister Repentin

Luxembourg, 13 – 15 October

Luxembourg, 22 October, General Affairs Council

Brussels, 24 – 25 October, European Council

Rome, 28 October, meeting with Italian EU Minister

Athens, 29 October, working lunch

Vilnius, 28 – 29 November, Eastern Partnership Summit

Minister of State Costello

Brussels, 26 – 27 November, European Development Day

Brussels, 12 December, Foreign Affairs (Development) Council

Question No. 26 answered with Question No. 14.