Wednesday 20 September 2017

Ireland can be 'gateway' to EU for Australia

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. Photo: Maxwells
Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. Photo: Maxwells
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Ireland will take the UK's place as the key gateway to the EU in the wake of Brexit, the Australian Foreign Minister has said.

Julie Bishop believes we are "superbly" positioned to exploit Brexit and bring in more Australian businesses.

"I see this as the dawn of a new era. I see this as a great opportunity for Australia and Ireland to explore how we take advantage of what's occurred," she told the Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce.

Having spent recent days in Washington and London, Ms Bishop was in Dublin for a series of meetings, including one with Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan. She said Ireland and Australia should work more closely in a "post-Brexit era" because the two countries are "natural partners".

"We look to Ireland, particularly post-Brexit. We look to Ireland as a gateway into the EU. I have to say a 12.5pc corporate tax rate does bring a tear to many a corporate leader's eye in Australia. It's very attractive," Ms Bishop said.

"But we also see the workforce here, the skilled and creative people of Ireland and the regulatory regime as a real opportunity for Australian businesses to be based in Ireland and have access to a consumer market of some 500 million people that makes up the EU.

"We are natural partners, Australia and Ireland. In fact, there is a high level of engagement but there could be so much more in terms of trade and investment."

Ms Bishop singled infrastructure, research and development, education and tourism as areas where the two countries can engage "far more deeply and broadly".

She also said that Ireland should be looking to Australia as an access point to Asia.

After their meeting, Mr Flanagan said Australia is becoming an "increasingly important market" for Irish companies.

"Currently, there are over 110 Irish companies with a presence in Australia, while some 40 Australian companies have set up operations in Ireland," he said. "My department is currently developing a new whole-of-Government cross-sectoral strategy for Asia-Pacific.

"I very much welcome Minister Bishop's acknowledgement of the importance of enhanced Ireland-Australia relations in the context of Brexit."

In relation to her Brexit meetings earlier this week, Ms Bishop said the UK's Boris Johnson and David Davis has suggested they wanted a "balanced" deal with EU.

Irish Independent

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