Written answers

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Departmental Meetings

Photo of James LawlessJames Lawless (Kildare North, Fianna Fail)
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61. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on his attendance in October 2021 at the 2021 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Ministerial Council meeting. [56378/21]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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Minister of State for European Affairs Thomas Byrne attended the 2021 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Ministerial Council meeting (MCM) on the 5-6th October.

The Ministerial Council Meeting, which was timed to mark the 60th anniversary of the OECD, saw Ministers agree a New Vision Statement and Global Relations Strategy to guide the work of the organisation over the next decade. Also on the agenda was a focus on addressing the medium and long-term challenges facing the global economy, with an emphasis on the green and digital transitions and gender equality.

Three substantive developments emerged from the Ministerial Council Meeting – consideration of enlargement of the OECD, an Inclusive Framework on Implicit and Explicit Carbon Pricing and agreement of a new tax framework to address the tax challenges of digitalisation.

Minister Byrne attended the Members only session, during which the importance of the shared values’ of the OECD were reaffirmed and a common vision for the future of the OECD were discussed, later being adopted as the New Vision Statement for the OECD.

During these discussions, Minister Byrne hailed the important contribution of the OECD to multilateralism and the rules based system over its six decades. In pledging support for the New Vision Statement, he highlighted the platform the OECD provides Members to build the prosperity needed to tackle inequalities and meet the needs of our citizens. He urged Members to accept the opportunities and challenges posed by climate and digital transitions in building a sustainable recovery from the pandemic.

Minister Byrne also spoke of the importance of cultivating public trust in Government as a source of truth and authority and pointed to the high vaccine uptake in Ireland as a sign of such public trust. He noted the need to mainstream gender equality by removing social and economic barriers limiting women and girls and to accelerate global co-operation, in particular with developing countries who are more severely impacted by climate change.

Minister Byrne also attended a discussion focused on innovation and inclusive pathways to net-zero.

Photo of John LahartJohn Lahart (Dublin South West, Fianna Fail)
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62. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on his recent visit to the port of Dunkirk for the inauguration of the Irish terminal. [56377/21]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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The Minister of State for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne T.D. visited Dunkirk on 10-11 October to participate in the inauguration of the Irish Terminal at the Port of Dunkirk, which is the base for the new DFDS direct maritime link to Rosslare. The main objectives of the visit were to underline the importance of both the direct routes and the landbridge for Ireland’s trade connectivity with the Single Market, to reinforce existing strong bilateral relations with France, Ireland’s closest EU neighbour, building on our ambitious Joint Plan of Action, and to consolidate relationships with the regional authorities in the Hauts-de-France region

The Dunkirk-Rosslare route opened on 2 January 2021 to cater for freight consignments moving directly from Ireland to mainland Europe and runs ten crossings a week. Dunkirk is a highly strategic location for Ireland’s exports to the European continent as it is ideally situated in close proximity to Paris, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. Ireland’s freight capacity to continental EU ports has doubled in the past 18 months in response to significant market demand. A number of new or additional direct ferry links with increased capacity have come on stream and are seeing high demand, including to Cherbourg, Dunkirk, Zeebrugge, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Roscoff and Santander. Figures from the Irish Maritime Development Office show that weekly roll-on / roll-off (RoRo) freight capacity to continental EU ports has doubled in the past 18 months and is at unprecedented levels. Similarly, load-on / load-off (LoLo) volumes in the first half of 2021 increased by 10% compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019, and are at their highest level since 2007. This increase in services demonstrates the commitment of the shipping companies to the Irish market

During the visit, the Minister also visited a manufacturing plant owned by Ecocem, an Irish company situated in the port of Dunkirk that produces high performance cements. Ecocem is one of the leading Irish companies in France that has grown its business through investment in the Hauts-de-France region and the Port of Dunkirk.

In parallel to supporting the development of direct maritime routes, the Minister and the Government continue to support the smooth flow of goods across the UK landbridge, including working closely with French counterparts.

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