Wednesday, 13 July 2011
Question 11: To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the date for the establishment of the Export Trade Council; the terms of reference for the council; if he will discuss the proposed membership of the council with the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20124/11]
Following the recent transfer of certain trade promotion functions from the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade now has responsibility for the establishment and management of the export trade council. The Tánaiste intends to convene the first meeting of the new council, which he will chair, later this month. As Minister of State with responsibility for trade and development, I look forward to supporting the Tánaiste in the work of the council which will strengthen co-operation and co-ordination across all Departments and State agencies involved in the promotion and development of trade and exports. It will oversee the progressive implementation of the recommendations set out in Trading and Investing in a Smart Economy published last autumn and included in the programme for Government commitments.
The Tánaiste intends to confirm the terms of reference for the export trade council, which will reflect these objectives, at the inaugural meeting. The Government is conscious of the need to avoid establishing new groups and bodies unless absolutely necessary and the Tánaiste has therefore decided that the export trade council will subsume the existing foreign trade council, established by the previous Government under Trading and Investing in a Smart Economy. In addition to the Departments and State agencies represented on the previous council, the Tánaiste will, in accordance with the programme for Government, invite private sector participation in the work of the new council, particularly from individuals who have experience in the export sector. Provision for such participation will be made in the terms of reference. The Tánaiste's decision to chair the new council himself is a reflection of the importance which the Government and all of us must attach to export-led recovery as the key to economic recovery.
The Tánaiste and I will be happy to discuss the work of the export trade council, once it is established, with the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade.
I thank the Minister of State for her response. I welcome the fact that we will not see the establishment of a second body to function in this particular area. The subsuming of the foreign trade council into the new export trade council is to be welcomed.
In the spirit of what was instigated by the former Minister, Eamon Ryan, in broadcasting legislation whereby he began the process of consulting with committees in advance of the appointment of boards or agencies, a matter alluded to on many occasions in the House by the Taoiseach who has given undertakings that prior to constituting State boards committees would be consulted, will consultation take place with the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade on the terms of reference and membership of the proposed trade council?
It is difficult to be overwhelmed by what is proposed by the Government at this stage on overseas trade missions. They are very important. Is the Tánaiste awaiting the appointment of the trade council before he embarks on overseas trade missions? With all due respect, the less we see of him in the House in the weeks and months ahead the better because we believe he will be a very good ambassador for the country on trade missions. We want to hear of him visiting many countries and doing the promotional work that so badly needs to be done.
I know the Tánaiste and I will be happy to engage with the committee. We do not want to delay the establishment and we have agreed it will be established by the end of the month. The final arrangements are being put in place. An important difference is that as well as State agencies and Ministries, individuals directly involved in exporting will be on the council. There is a time factor involved in engaging with the committee prior to the first meeting of the export trade council. However, the Minister and I will be happy to engage with the committee on an ongoing basis.
With regard to trade missions, I am sure the Tánaiste takes the compliment the Deputy offered. Information on trade missions is given to the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. Such information from Enterprise Ireland has been conveyed on a number of proposals for this year. Any time the Minister, the Minister of State, Deputy Creighton, and I are abroad on Government, development or European business we have ensured the work we do has a trade element. Trade missions will be jointly informed to the two Departments and will be led by Ministers or Ministers of State. I assure the Deputy that we will all work very hard along with our embassies and State agencies to ensure we develop in every corner of the world every trading opportunity we can for the country.