Reportage: The Flying Tiger

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Photo: Irish Ambassador to China Paul Kavanagh delivering his speech.


At an event to mark the ninth Asian Financial Forum which opened on January 18, Irish Ambassador to China, Paul Kavanagh was delighted to announce that his country is past the financial crisis that followed, while addressing the full house at the Irish Consulate General on Des Voeux Road with humour.

“The Irish economy is flying. We had a growth rate of 7% last year, the first among the OECD countries,” Mr Kavanagh said.

The unemployment rate continues to drop from the peak of over 15% in 2012 to lower than 9% at the end of 2015. The budget deficit is expected to be eliminated by 2017.

Mr Kavanagh highlighted how China’s new consumer-oriented strategy is playing into Ireland’s advantage as a export powerhouse for dairy products – including its milk powder formula.

Ireland’s exports accounted for 113.7% of its GDP in 2014. He took some delight in noting that the figure for export powerhouse Germany is only 45.7%. Regarding France’s 28.7%, he postulated they must enjoy buying and selling to each other.

Also speaking was Neil Ryan, Assistant Secretary General with responsibility for Finance of the Irish Government. He was leading a delegation of Irish financial professionals to the Asian Financial Forum. Mr Ryan recalled their decision to leave the three-year Troika (European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund) programme of assistance without any further precautionary credit line in December 2013.

“We decided to go for the harder path, and are now benefiting from it,” Mr Ryan said.

In addition to bringing the financial community, the Consul General Peter Ryan was proud of the fine Irish fare and hospitality provided by Noel Smyth of Delaney’s fame.