Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Questions (357)

Michael McGrath


357. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the level of trade between Ireland and Vietnam; her plans to further develop trade links; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27609/19]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

In 2018, Ireland’s goods exports to Vietnam amounted to €65 million. Ireland’s main exports to Vietnam include medical and pharmaceutical products valued at €18.6m in 2018. Ireland's food exports to Vietnam have grown considerably in recent years. While meat and dairy products are the largest share of this, beverages and seafood also contributed strongly. In 2017 (the most recent year with available figures), services exports from Ireland to Vietnam were valued at €164m. Services imports from Vietnam for the same year totalled €13m. Last year, Ireland imported €167m worth of goods from Vietnam which mainly consisted of clothing, footwear and furniture.

Through the Government’s Trade Strategy, ‘Ireland Connected: Trading and Investing in a Dynamic World ’, we aim by 2020 to increase indigenous exports by Enterprise Ireland supported companies, including food, to reach €26 billion and secure 900 new foreign direct investments. As part of the Government’s Global Ireland 2025 strategy, Enterprise Ireland will open a new office in Ho Chi Minh City this year to support Irish businesses to expand into the Vietnamese market and to take advantage of the new opportunities presented by the FTA.

Negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the EU and Vietnam were concluded in December 2015. On 31 June 2019 the EU and Vietnam signed the Free Trade Agreement along with the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (IPA). The FTA will unlock a market with huge potential for Irish and EU firms and includes the elimination of nearly all tariffs (over 99%) on EU exports to Vietnam. 65% of these tariffs will be liberalised at entry into force of the FTA with the remainder phased out over a 10-year period. The FTA also covers non-tariff barriers to trade and other trade related issues such as public procurement, competition, services, investment, intellectual property rights, regulatory issues, and sustainable development. I support the entry into force of the EU-Vietnam FTA so that Irish firms may benefit from the new business opportunities provided for by the Agreement.

Opportunities exist for Ireland to grow exports in dairy products, pork, seafood and alcoholic beverages by taking advantage of reduced tariffs under the FTA. Currently tariffs on EU exports of spirits to Vietnam are particularly high at 48% and will eliminated over a 7-year period following entry into force of the FTA. The elimination of tariffs of 15% on frozen pork products is also significant for Irish producers.

Ireland is an exceptionally open economy and is dependent on international trade and investment as sources of growth. Building new export opportunities for our businesses forms a vital part of Ireland’s enterprise strategy. We favour ambitious and balanced trade agreements, negotiated by the EU Commission on our behalf, which are designed to deliver jobs and growth for the benefit of our citizens. The EU-Vietnam FTA and the EU’s other trade agreements help to open new markets, break down barriers and provide new opportunities for Irish firms.

As part of the St. Patrick’s Day “Promote Ireland” Programmes, Ministerial visits around the world, including Vietnam, were organised to ensure that we use this exposure to maximise the promotion of Ireland's trade, tourism and investment interests.

In a wider context, Vietnam is a member of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). The EU is working towards achieving a region-to-region FTA with ASEAN by first concluding FTAs with individual ASEAN members. The first of these was signed with Singapore in October 2018, the Vietnam FTA is the second, and negotiations for an FTA with Indonesia, the largest county in the ASEAN group, are ongoing. In addition, the benefits of comprehensive EU Free Trade Agreements with third Countries are not solely economic but also involve the establishment of strong lines of communication and areas of common interest with other economies.