The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Simon Coveney T.D., announced that Ireland will open new resident diplomatic missions in Chile, Colombia, Jordan, Vancouver and Mumbai as part of the Government’s overall Budget 2018 package.
Additional funding will be directed towards augmenting Brexit resources, following recent steps to increase staff numbers working on Brexit at HQ and in major European capitals like Brussels, Berlin, Paris and London.
Speaking Tuesday afternoon from Leinster House, Minister Coveney said:
“The announcement of these new Irish Embassies and Consulates are important first steps in expanding our global footprint and diversifying our trade portfolio as we prepare for Brexit.
"The new Embassies in Santiago, Chile and in Bogotá, Colombia will assist in promoting trade and investment with both countries. Chile is a high-income country, the most competitive economy in Latin America, and enjoys the region’s highest investment rating. Like Ireland, it is an open, trading economy with a broad network of trade agreements, including with the European Union. It is a promising emerging market for Irish companies in a number of sectors including technology, higher education, telecoms equipment and renewable energy.
"With almost 50 million people, Colombia has doubled its per capita income over the past decade. Ireland’s trade with Colombia has tripled since 2012 and a number of Irish companies are already active there. A Free Trade Agreement with the European Union ensures ease of access for Irish exporters and investors. Our new Embassy will also underpin Ireland’s support for the peace process in Colombia, which in 2016 brought to an end fifty years of conflict.
"We also plan to open an Embassy in Amman, Jordan, a highly strategic location in terms of our work and investment in the Middle East. The Embassy will allow us to build on our political partnership with Jordan, work closely with our Defence Forces in the region and facilitate oversight of our humanitarian assistance (€25 million in the region last year).
"The opening of a Consulate in Vancouver in western Canada reflects the strength of the Ireland-Canada relationship, the growing economic importance of that region and also the fact that there is a large Irish community now living there. This will strengthen our hand when helping Irish business to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, with the Consulate serving as a gateway for Irish business to western Canada.
"The addition of a Consulate in Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, will significantly strengthen our presence in another of Ireland’s key strategic partners. We exported almost €3 billion in goods and services to India during 2016 and the new Consulate will allow the establishment of an Ireland House to facilitate even greater engagement by our State agencies throughout the western region of India.
"With Japan already our largest trading partner in Asia for services and a growing market for our food exports, and building on potential offered by the new EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, the Government has also provided the funding to begin work next year on a new state-of-the-art Ireland House in Tokyo, which will position us to take advantage of these opportunities.”
On additional measures to address the impact of Brexit, Minister Coveney added:
“We have already taken steps to augment our Brexit teams at my Department in Dublin and in Brussels, Berlin, Paris and London and towards ensuring that our Embassy network across the EU is closely coordinated around this absolute priority issue for Ireland.
"This Budget puts those measures on a sustainable footing and allows us to further augment our Brexit team as the process continues.
"We have benefited greatly from the decision to maintain an Embassy in every EU Member State, even during the financial crisis. The wisdom of that decision has been plain to see since the UK’s Brexit vote. I now want us to go further and to look at expanding our diplomatic and economic footprint across a European Union which will remain, by far, the most important market for Irish goods. I hope to bring proposals in this respect to Cabinet in the coming months.”
Also commenting on this aspect of the budget, the Minister of State for European Affairs, Helen McEntee T.D., said:
“The increased budget for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is extremely welcome. Part of the increased funding will see an increased budget for programmes to support the work of the EU in Ireland that will assist the Government in developing a national debate about the Future of Europe.
"I will continue to work with An Taoiseach and Minister Coveney in strengthening Ireland’s position within the EU 27 and ensuring that EU works for all of our citizens.”