Pursuing Economic Opportunities for Ireland Abroad - The Role of Foreign Affairs
Comments by the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Liz O'Donnell, TD
Speaking at a working lunch today for the delegates attending a seminar on the role of the diplomatic service in promoting national economic interests overseas, Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Liz O'Donnell, TD said:
"This seminar which was instigated by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, David Andrews, TD, is an important initiative. It brings together business representatives, exporters, state agencies, Government Departments and our Ambassadors from around the world. Our common interest is the overriding national interest - the development and maintenance of our economic success."
The Minister paid tribute to the work already being done by Ireland's foreign service staff and their families in 54 missions abroad, which cover over 100 countries and international bodies. Minister O'Donnell also mentioned the success of the Ireland House concept where State Agencies and embassies work together in the same building. The Minister urged business to become more involved in this synergy.
"This Department's role is as a facilitator. In practice, this means acting as a channel of information on foreign economic, regulatory and sectoral conditions. It also means building a network of business, government and press contacts that can be of use to Irish business. It means communicating Ireland's economic capacities to foreign audiences and alerting Irish business to opportunities abroad.
"The establishment of a new Embassy in Singapore in the Ireland House mould, and of new Consulates in Shanghai and Sydney will enhance Ireland's efforts in Asia. It is widely recognised that the prestige of an embassy helps open doors in many markets. I would urge business organisations and exporters to use Irish Embassies and Consulates to develop in new markets."
In conclusion, the Minister said:
"Ideally I would like to see this concept of bringing the business community and our diplomatic staff together as a regular feature of the Department's work and activity."