To restore Ireland’s crisis-stricken economy, the island nation is looking for investment and tourists from China, which has overtaken Japan as the world’s second largest economy, an Irish cabinet minister said Friday.
“I do and I would welcome Chinese investment,” said Phil Hogan, Irish minister for environment, community and local government.
“Ireland is on the gateway of the European Union (EU), where there’s a market with 500 million population. We have a low corporation tax base, we’ve a highly skilled labor force and we’ve a good quality environment and good quality infrastructure,” Hogan told Xinhua in his hometown Kilkenny, 120 km from Ireland’s capital Dublin.
He said Chinese companies would find that his country has a “very resilient labor force,” and that Irish workers are well educated and have the necessary skills. Hogan added that foreign investment has become quite important for Ireland since its financial bailout in late November last year.
“We are conscious of the fact that we need to generate an economic stimulus at the local, national and international level in Ireland at the moment, and that’s what Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) has been at the forefront in trying to achieve,” he said.
He said Ireland is negotiating with its European partners to maintain its controversial 12.5 percent corporation tax rate, and is working to reduce taxes on labor and tourism.
Hogan also gave several reasons for investors worldwide to make Ireland their first choice. He said Ireland has a very friendly people, a beautiful landscape and rich history, not to mention a government that pays a lot of attention to environmental issues in attracting foreign investment.
“It is a priority because we have to ensure that we are obliged within the context of our EU agreements that we improve the environment in terms of air quality, water quality and in environmental quality generally,” Hogan said.
He said the benefits of a clean environment will be seen “not just by the Irish citizens, but by people that want to visit here and invest here.”
He also expects foreign companies to do business in an environmentally friendly way, “building on the low-carbon economy that we wish to produce in this country.”
Hogan said a low-carbon economy is important as it makes the Irish economy more competitive.
The minister also wants foreign companies to exploit the potential of a low-carbon economy.
“There is a huge amount of business to be done in Ireland across the areas of construction, textiles, catering and all of those areas where we can actually produce a high-quality product in a low-carbon economy,” he said.
Hogan said he would like to see more Chinese tourists visit Ireland, saying that Ireland’s reputation has taken a bit of a hammering in recent years.
“We are implementing proposals to reduce costs of access to the country, we are an island nation so therefore access is important, and we are reducing taxation, reducing the charges that are there in order to make tourism competitive in Ireland again.
“We’re also conscious of having a very high-quality tourism product, and we are at all times enhancing that product to ensure that visitors to Ireland are able to have a pleasant experience and a satisfying holiday,” he said.