Martin Heydon, Ireland’s Minister of State in the Department of Agriculture Food and The Marine, recently attended the Hainan’s 3rd International Consumer Products Expo 2023 in the Hainan Free Trade Port, where he championed Irish companies and advocated for stronger ties between Ireland and Hainan.
Heydon was impressed with the potential for trade at the Free Trade Port, which offers a gateway to Chinese consumers for Irish agri-food produce. Ireland already exports to over 180 countries worldwide, and the Expo provided an opportunity for Chinese consumers to sample the vast array of Irish produce on display, including the renowned Irish whiskey, known as “Uisce Beatha” or “the water of life.”
In addition, Minister Heydon highlighted the importance of the EU-China agreement on geographical indications, which protects Xinglong coffee, Irish whiskey, and Irish cream liqueurs.
The global popularity of Irish agricultural produce is a testament to Ireland’s commitment to quality, innovation, and sustainability as well as the fact that Ireland has taken a food systems approach to its ten-year strategy for the development of its agri-food and drink industry, ensuring sustainability in all its forms: economic, social, and environmental.
Minister Heydon stressed the importance of innovative and research-led science-based approaches to food systems, ensuring that food is produced sustainably for the future.
Minister Heydon sees significant opportunities for Irish and Chinese companies to work together and learn from each other, particularly in the areas of science and innovation behind food production systems. He encourages companies to engage with Irish semi-State bodies such as Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board, and Enterprise Ireland, which work closely with the Irish embassy and consular teams across China.
Looking forward, Heydon envisions endless opportunities for trade relations between Ireland and Hainan, with the potential for collaboration on sustainable farming practices. As the only English-speaking country in the European Union and the Eurozone, Ireland offers an important gateway to Europe for Chinese businesses looking to invest.
Heydon’s first visit to the Hainan Expo left a positive impression, with the scale and professionalism of the event leaving a lasting impact stating that Irish companies participating in the Expo felt the benefits of engaging with Chinese consumers and participating in the global forum.
Minister Heydon expressed his desire to return, and stated that the Irish team from Enterprise Ireland, the embassy, and Bord Bia are all ready to assist companies looking to invest in Ireland and its vast opportunities.
Overall, Heydon’s visit to the Hainan Free Trade Port showcased the importance of developing closer ties between Ireland and China, with the potential for mutual benefit and collaboration in the future.
Related article: Interview with Ambassador of Ireland to the People’s Republic of China, Ann Derwin on the Hainan Expo and FTP
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