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Speech by Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping at the China-Ireland Trade and Investment Forum

Dublin, 20 February 2012

Taoiseach Enda Kenny,
Chief Executive Frank Ryan,
Chairman Wan Jifei,
Friends of the business communities,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to come to the beautiful city of Dublin and join friends of Chinese and Irish business communities in exploring ways to promote our economic cooperation and trade. I would like to take this opportunity to express heartfelt thanks and extend best wishes to the business leaders present today and all those who have contributed to China-Ireland friendship and cooperation over the years.

Ireland is acclaimed as an emerald in the Atlantic. Its unique natural beauty, time-honored history and rich culture are most impressive in the eyes of the Chinese people. Over the years, our two countries have upheld equality, mutual trust and mutual benefit in our exchanges, setting a good example of state-to-state relations. And recent years have seen closer high-level exchanges, deepening mutual understanding and more vibrant people-to-people exchanges, laying a solid political foundation and creating a favorable atmosphere for deepening bilateral business cooperation.

We are glad to see that with the concerted efforts of the governments and business communities of our two countries, China-Ireland business ties have maintained sound growth momentum. According to Chinese statistics, bilateral trade reached US$5.87 billion in 2011, up by 8.6% year on year. China has been Ireland's biggest trading partner in Asia for five years. And Ireland has recorded surplus in trade with China for three years, with a trade surplus of over US$1.5 billion in 2011. By the end of 2011, Ireland had invested US$641 million in 241 projects in China. China started late in investing in Ireland. But Chinese investment is growing fast with paid-in investment already reaching US$148 million. Expanding bilateral economic cooperation and trade has not only brought the two countries and two peoples real benefits, but also enhanced exchanges and deepened friendship.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over the past 30 years of reform and opening-up, China has maintained fast economic development, and deepened and broadened exchanges and cooperation with other countries in such areas as economy, science, technology and culture. The size of China's economy in 2010 was 16 times that of 1978, and the share of China's economy in the world's total increased from 1.8% to 9.3% over the same period. In 2011, China's GDP grew by 9.2% year on year. From 2001 when China joined the WTO to 2010, China imported an average of US$750 billion worth of goods every year, creating a great many jobs and investment opportunities for its trading partners. During the same period, foreign-invested companies in China sent out US$261.7 billion in profits, with an average annual growth rate of 30%. At the same time, China's direct outbound investment grew by over 40% on average every year, reaching US$68.8 billion and ranking fifth in the world in 2010. In 2011, China's export grew by 20.3% and import, by 24.9%. It utilized US$116 billion of foreign direct investment. Chinese enterprises have quickened their pace of "going global", deepening China's multilateral and bilateral business ties.

China is implementing the 12th Five-Year Plan of economic and social development for the period between 2011 and 2015. China will put in place a long-term mechanism to expand domestic demand and increase the size of its domestic market. China will seek scientific and technological advancement and innovation at a faster pace, reinforce protection of intellectual property rights, accelerate the high- and new-tech driven upgrading of traditional industries, and develop emerging industries of strategic importance. China will continue to give priority to green development and energy conservation, work actively to tackle climate change, and speed up the building of a resource-conserving and environment-friendly society. China will intensify efforts to ensure and improve people's well-being, establish a basic public service system and keep improving it, and promote coordinated economic and social development. China will give equal importance to "bringing in" and "going global" and seek balanced development of foreign trade. It is expected that China's retail sales will total 32 trillion RMB yuan by 2015, or about US$5 trillion. Its domestic market will rank among the biggest in the world. Its imports are expected to hit US$8 trillion and outbound investment, over US$500 billion. This will offer huge business opportunities to Ireland and other countries around the world. Irish entrepreneurs are known for their hard work and pioneering spirit. I hope that business leaders in our two countries will seize opportunities and make the deepening economic cooperation and trade a prime avenue leading to shared economic growth and a bright spot in bilateral relations. With this in mind, I suggest that efforts be made in the following five aspects.

First, expand bilateral trade and advance trade in services. During the 12th Five-Year Plan period, China will take the service industry as a strategic priority in industrial structural upgrading and make greater efforts to ensure that the service industry will grow at a faster pace and to a higher level, and gain a bigger share of the economy. China looks forward to the active participation of Irish business people in the first China International Fair on Trade in Services to be held in Beijing in May. Ireland regards export an engine for economic growth and is strong in trade in services. There is a promising future for China-Ireland cooperation in trade in goods and services. I hope that the two sides will work together to expand existing trade, bring out the comparative advantages of our economies and industries, identify new areas of cooperation for trade in services, look for products and services where we have a lot to offer each other, and fully unlock the potential of bilateral trade.

Second, enhance two-way investment and broaden areas of investment cooperation. Two-way investment helps promote economic structural adjustment, accelerate industrial upgrading and create jobs in both countries. Relevant government agencies should continue to support enterprises in enhancing mutual investment, expanding investment areas and seeking innovative models of investment. The Chinese government will continue to encourage capable Chinese enterprises to invest in Ireland. And we welcome more Irish enterprises to invest in China and share in the opportunities of China's economic prosperity and development. China will pay greater attention to protecting intellectual property rights and make continued efforts to create a more open and transparent legal and policy environment, a more efficient and convenient financing environment and a level playing field for investors at home and abroad, Irish enterprises included. We welcome the participation of Irish enterprises in our economic structural adjustment and industrial upgrading. In particular, we welcome more Irish investment in central and western China and old industrial bases in north-eastern China.

Third, develop high technology and broaden cooperation in emerging industries. Ireland has well-developed industrial clusters and strong capability of R&D results application in high-tech industries including software development, information and communications and bio-medicine. China is promoting industrial structural adjustment and technological innovation, and developing as a priority a new generation of information technology, bio-tech and other high-tech industries in a bid to accelerate the building of an innovation-driven country. Cooperation in high-tech and emerging industries can become a focus in China-Ireland business cooperation. The two business communities need to seize the opportunities, and seek greater mutual benefit in the course of expanding cooperation in high-tech and emerging industries.

Fourth, support small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and cement the foundation of economic relations and trade. SMEs are the most active market players and a staunch force for economic cooperation. We need to bring out fully the respective strengths of the great numbers of SMEs in technology, R&D, human resources, market and economic structure, expand cooperation areas, bring cooperation to a higher level, and promote common development so that SME cooperation will become a new highlight in bilateral business cooperation. The two governments and their relevant agencies need to build platforms and work out new channels for closer cooperation in the establishment, development and internationalization of SMEs, create a better investment and operation environment for SMEs and further enhance the quality of cooperation and the global competitiveness of our SMEs.

Fifth, make good use of cooperation mechanisms and give play to the role of business associations. Competent authorities for economy and trade need to enhance communication and cooperation, and the China-Ireland Economic and Scientific Joint Commission needs to fully play its role. At the same time, business associations in our two countries need to continue to provide platforms for potential business partnerships, help enterprises with project information sharing, priority project promotion and risk control, and encourage enterprises to take part in trade fairs, fora and training programs in each other's countries, with a view to providing more efficient services and an easier environment for business exchanges and cooperation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The international situation is undergoing complex and profound changes. Far-reaching impact of the international financial crisis continues to exist. The world economic recovery remains an uphill struggle. It is all the more urgent for countries around the world to enhance mutual trust, strengthen cooperation and meet challenges together. China is a reliable friend that Ireland and other European countries can count on in addressing the crisis and realizing recovery and a trustworthy partner in international and multilateral affairs. China will continue to support, in a responsible way and as its ability permits, the efforts of the EU, IMF and ECB to tackle the European debt problem, enhance policy communication and coordination with the EU, promote China-EU business, investment and financial cooperation, and join the international community in supporting Europe and the Euro zone. We are confident that Europe has the wisdom, capability and ways to overcome difficulties and make new progress.

There is a Chinese saying that goes, "It is better to start weaving fishing nets than merely coveting fish at the water's edge." There is an Irish saying that goes, "You will never plow a field by turning it over in your mind." Today's forum is a gathering of Chinese and Irish business leaders. It demonstrates the confidence and resolve of the two business communities to seize opportunities and meet challenges together. I am convinced that as long as the Chinese and Irish governments and business communities join hands to overcome difficulties with firm confidence and in an enterprising spirit, our economic cooperation and trade will make great accomplishments and embrace an even brighter future.

Thank you.


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