On 20 May, whilst socially distanced through the pandemic, HSBC Ireland and IDA Ireland; the state agency responsible for bringing foreign direct investment (FDI) into Ireland, joined forces to launch the ‘Ireland Asia Report’ with a webinar on FDI from Asia.
Giving insights on the landscape and opportunities for Ireland and Asia to work together in the long term when life goes back to normal, the report also features case studies of successful Asian investments in Ireland.
While initial plans to hold a launch event were shelved due to the ongoing pandemic, the webinar took the format of a discussion on the growing importance of investment from Asia into Ireland and we heard from Martin Shanahan, CEO of IDA Ireland, Alan Duffy, CEO of HSBC Ireland, William Wu, Head of Corporate, Greater Central China, HSBC China, and Brendan McGrath, Ireland Site Head and VP of Manufacturing for Chinese firm Wuxi Biologics, which has chosen Ireland as a location for innovative investment.
The revised format allowed attendance and engagement both with Irish and Asian corporate audiences at a joint session, which would not have been possible had there been a physical launch event.
Mr Shanahan told the attendees that 21 investments were made into Ireland by Asian businesses last year and IDA Ireland has exceeded all of its targets for Asian investment in the last five years. IDA Ireland has a presence in Asia since the 1980s with its first office in Japan, and now has locations across the continent as well as a Dublin team dedicated to the region. Mr Shanahan also noted that, alongside the more traditional work of IDA Ireland, they had more recently been using their relationships to help secure critical healthcare products for Ireland from China, Japan and Korea. Acknowledging short-term challenges, he stated that the FDI portfolio was proving very resilient during the challenges of Covid-19.
Alan Duffy discussed Ireland’s attractiveness as a destination for Asian investment, particularly in the wake of Brexit. As the UK exits the EU, Ireland is now the only English-speaking country in Europe and Mr Duffy noted that many Asian companies are already moving investments towards Ireland. Ireland’s European ties, along with the country’s globally recognised education and pro-business approach, creates an environment which many Asian companies are looking to locate and thrive in.
William Wu highlighted the progress China has made with Covid-19, with many businesses nearly back to normality. Mr Wu stated that he expected Chinese FDI to continue to remain strong going forward and Ireland should continue to benefit. Currently, one third of all direct Chinese investment into Europe goes into Ireland, underlining their confidence in the country.
The webinar was concluded with comments from Brendan McGrath, Site Head and VP of Manufacturing for WuXi Biologics. The biologics manufacturer is currently constructing its next factory in Dundalk, which, when complete, will be the company’s first site outside of China. Mr McGrath pointed out Ireland’s very young, well-educated population as a key factor for many businesses wishing to relocate to the country. Ireland’s high standard of regulation and convenient time zone, located midway between China and the USA, were also important factors which influenced WuXi’s decision to set up facilities in Ireland.
Chen Tian, Head of China Desk, Continental Europe, Commercial Banking at HSBC, who chaired the event said: “Asian investment into Ireland has grown significantly over the last few years thanks to Ireland’s welcoming approach to business. The report focuses on the day-to-day experience of companies across various sectors. It shows that, despite the ongoing crisis, Ireland’s attractiveness will continue. The report and webinar are a tremendous showcase for Ireland, IDA Ireland’s approach and HSBC’s global capabilities, and we hope to see continued interest in investment in Ireland from Asia.”
The full report, including case studies from China, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and ASEAN region can be read online and downloaded from here.