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Government 'must act' to help firms tap into Asia

IRELAND must get to know Asia better if it is to have any chance of tapping into the economic boom on the continent, a leading trade group said yesterday.

According to the Irish Exporters Association (IEA), exports to Asia can be more than doubled in the next five years to 10pc of total exports -- €10bn per annum -- but only if the Government puts the necessary resources in place first.

Speaking at the launch of the IEA's Asia Trade Strategy 2011-2015, IEA Asia Trade Forum chairman Colin Lawlor said a lack of emphasis on Asia from the Government meant Ireland was in danger of missing out on a huge market.

"Over half of the world's population lives in Asia, with three of the four fastest growing economies in the world located there. Within the next 20 years Asia will represent 45pc of the global economy. We are losing share even as the markets expand," he said.

Despite strong growth in the region, there were only 75 Irish companies operating in China in 2009 while barely 35 companies had a significant presence in Japan.

The most recent trade mission to China was postponed due to the political turmoil here.

"Cancelling missions because of political and economic problems is not a good thing," said Mr Lawlor.

Irish Independent