Interview: Dublin mayor woos FDI from Beijing

08:39, May 26, 2011      

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Ireland's capital city hopes to attract foreign direct investment from Beijing and become a gateway for Chinese firms into the European market, says Dublin Mayor Gerry Breen.

Dublin wants to see real growth in investment from Beijing's small- and medium-sized enterprises and the private sector, Breen told Xinhua prior to his Beijing visit next week.

Ireland has successfully attracted FDI over the past 20 years, he said.

Total investment from the United States reached 166 billion U.S. dollars, which is higher than its total investment in the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

"With a low corporate tax at 12.5 percent and good infrastructure, Dublin could play an important role as a destination or gateway for Chinese companies locating functions in Europe or other overseas locations," Breen said.

The mayor will lead a delegation to China to sign a sister-city agreement with the Beijing mayor early next month.

"This is the critical event of the visit, opening up great opportunities for cooperation between the two cities and peoples," Breen said.

Beijing currently has 45 sister cities across the world while Dublin is twinned with cities like San Jose, Liverpool, Barcelona, Moscow and St. Petersburg.

"It is our great honor to be twinned with Beijing, a great city with long history, profound cultural foundations, economic and business dynamics," Breen said.

Ireland is a leader in sectors like information and communications technology (ICT), biomedicine and medical devices, he said.

Seven of the top 10 ICT companies have a substantial base in Ireland, one third of all PCs sold in Europe are manufactured in the country and Ireland is the largest exporter of software in the world. Besides, nine of the top 10 global biomedical companies have a manufacturing base there. Ireland is home to 15 of the world's top 25 medical device companies.

The Dublin city region, home to an estimated 1.2 million people, is the economic driver and employment and population hub of the country. It is the European and international gateway for many multinational firms, Breen said.

"Even as a small city region in the international scale, Dublin outperforms in relation to its size," the mayor said.

There are only two countries in Europe that speak English, the United Kingdom and Ireland, he said. "But the UK is not part of the euro zone, and for Chinese companies based in Ireland, they enjoy full euro membership as well as full European Union membership."

One of the key focuses of his trip and the twinning between the cities is higher education, he said. Currently there are over 3,500 Chinese students studying in higher education institutions in Ireland.

"Dublin is a fantastic young city. We have two major universities that are ranked in the top 100 as well as private colleges," the mayor said. "So, I would like to see an increase in the number of Chinese students coming to Dublin for a short term or a long term."

"We look to achieve several sustainable programs with higher education where we can see tangible, measurable results," he added.

Another focus in the twinning between Dublin and Beijing is tourism.

Breen said he would like to see more Chinese people come to Dublin as students and secondly as tourists.

The Dublin mayor also mentioned huge opportunities now in the Irish property market.

"I think people are starting to see there is a value in the Irish property market, and for Chinese companies and individuals they may see good returns in the Irish property market because it is at such a low level," he said.

Source: Xinhua
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