Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Questions (37)

Joan Collins

Question:

37. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent of State agency efforts to promote trade with Russia and Iran; and his views on whether all contact with Russia should be ceased due to its ongoing atrocities in Ghouta. [12265/18]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Irish Embassy in Moscow, working with the state agencies, continues to raise awareness of Ireland as an attractive investment location and to support Irish companies present in Russia and those seeking to explore new market opportunities there. In December, I co-chaired the 11th meeting of the Ireland-Russia Joint Economic Commission in Dublin, where we discussed opportunities to promote bilateral trade and investment and advance cooperation in a number of sectors. Last month Pat Breen, Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, led an Enterprise Ireland trade visit to Moscow.

Both Enterprise Ireland and Bord Bia cover Iran from their Dubai offices and visit the country regularly. Both have organised trade missions in the past year. Shannon Development and the Irish Aviation Authority have also visited Iran in relation to particular sectors. The Irish Ambassador in Ankara has also visited Iran frequently, working both bilaterally and in cooperation with the state agencies to assist Irish companies exploring opportunities there.

In common with our European partners, Ireland supports the EU strategy of maintaining dialogue with Russia on issues of mutual interest. It is important that the EU engages with Russia on key global challenges such as migration, climate change, combatting terrorism, as well as regional conflicts, but only where it clearly contributes to a relationship with a Russia that is committed to the rule of law and international standards.

I also believe that maintaining dialogue and contact at national level with countries with whom we do not always agree is not only necessary, but is the very essence of Ireland’s approach to foreign policy. Our concerns over Russia’s actions in Syria and Ukraine impacts on the nature of such cooperation, but we believe it is important to keep channels of communication open and to develop our trade relations in the areas and sectors where trade is still possible. Trade relations, and promotion of Irish trade, is not a reward for good behaviour. It is a priority activity to support Irish jobs and livelihoods.