Thursday, 11 July 2019
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
149. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the way in which Ireland plans to double its impact in the Asia Pacific region; the resources, financial and otherwise which will be committed to ensure that this target will be reached; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31195/19]
The Asia Pacific region has grown significantly in importance and influence, and the Global Ireland strategy has set out clear goals and targets for how we meet the challenge posed by changes in the region, and the opportunity presented by greater trade, investment and tourism links. Central to our approach is the commitment to double our impact in the region by 2025.
In support of that ambitious target, significant work has already been undertaken, including the opening of Ireland’s first resident mission to New Zealand in Wellington, which opened in November 2018, and Ireland's first Consulate General in Mumbai, India, which opened in March 2019. Further new Missions are envisaged to open under the strategy, including Ireland's first resident Mission to the Philippines in 2020, and a third consulate in China before 2025. These new Missions will take to 17 the number of Irish Embassies and Consulates in this fast-growing and important region, which is home to over 4 billion people.
In line with the expansion of our physical Mission network, there has been a drive to increase our human presence on-the-ground. Including both posted diplomats and local support staff, there has been an 8% increase in the headcount in our Embassies and Consulates in Asia Pacific between 2017 and 2018. This is expected to grow further as new Missions are opened, and further deepening of our existing network takes place. In addition to the work underway in my own Department, the State Agencies have also invested heavily in their Asia Pacific presence, both expanding their network with new offices in Shenzhen, Ho Chi Minh, Tokyo and Melbourne, and reinforcement of existing offices in the region.
In support of our aim to double our impact by 2025, we have also increased the money available to missions in the region through a doubling of the Asia Pacific Regional Fund (APRF) to €480,000 in 2019. The APRF focused on activities which build awareness of Ireland and promote our values, and for public diplomacy and visibility raising initiatives. Projects this year include a media and film industry trip to Ireland from Beijing, Bloomsday celebrations in Shanghai, a Women in STEAM event in Jakarta and research into perceptions and awareness of Ireland in Japan.
To guide and shape our future engagement with countries in the region, the Government will publish the whole-of-Government Asia Pacific Strategy in the Autumn. This strategy will detail how we will develop long-term strategic relationships, build stronger two-way economic partnerships, share our culture and engage our diaspora and increase our visibility in the region.