My Department has responsibility for the Export Trade Council, which I chair, and which works to strengthen cooperation and coordination across all Government Departments and State agencies involved in the promotion and development of trade, tourism and investment and to oversee the coordination and implementation of the Government Trade, Tourism and Investment Strategy. On 24 February 2014 I launched a review of that strategy which was coordinated by my Department. A copy of the document was circulated to all members of the Oireachtas and the document is available on my Department’s website.
The review provides an update to our numerical targets and re-aligns our list of priority sectors so that they are aligned with the Action Plan for Jobs. It also introduces a ‘new market approach’, which disaggregates the list of our priority markets and includes additional high potential and exploratory markets to ensure that Ireland also engages with high growth markets in Asia, South America and Africa. In order to achieve our targets, the review provides a revised ‘action plan model’, which recognises the responsibility of Government to provide the best possible platform for companies and State agencies to win business overseas. These changes emphasise the positive benefits that accrue through maximising the coordination between Embassies and State agencies in the field and our coordination at home.
Alongside its foreign policy, diplomatic and consular functions, the Embassy network is a key platform for the promotion of Ireland’s trade, investment and tourism objectives. Recognising this role, the Government decided in January 2014 to open eight new Embassies and Consulates on five continents. Embassies will be opened in Bangkok (Thailand), Jakarta (Malaysia), Nairobi (Kenya) and Zagreb (Croatia), along with the reopening of Ireland’s Embassy to the Holy See. Consulates-General will be opened in Hong Kong (China), Austin (Texas, US) and Sao Paolo (Brazil). These new Embassies and Consulates will equip Ireland to take advantage of emerging opportunities in these important markets.
A detailed report of the work of the Embassy network in this area was published earlier this year and I have arranged for a copy to be forwarded to the Deputy’s office.