'Yes' vote vital to maintain strong trade with China
'Confidence is more important than currencies or gold,' says PCH chief
LIAM Casey, the managing director of PCH International, believes that China remains confident about investment in Ireland despite the ever-worsening euro crisis. However, he said a 'Yes' vote in the fiscal compact referendum was important to maintaining this.
Casey, who has been nicknamed 'Mr China' in the press because of his strong links with the country, said, "China looks at Europe as a major trading partner. It would be seen as a negative signal [if Ireland voted 'No' in the referendum]."
He explained: "Confidence now is more important than currencies or gold. We need to show that we are confident in Europe."
Casey said it was important to understand how Ireland's close ties to Europe helped it to trade internationally and this should not be confused by voters tempted to vote 'No' for "anti-government" or other reasons unconnected with the fiscal treaty referendum itself.
"The Chinese are hugely confident in Ireland. They like our can-do attitude and they can see that we have great ingredients here -- and there are lots of opportunities," Casey said.
PCH, which designs, builds and ships consumer electronic goods and accessories for global brands, he said, was considering a "variety of options" to fund its future expansion. Casey declined to comment on whether his company still planned to float on the Hong Kong stock exchange.
He said PCH was trading strongly, with revenues of over $400m in 2010, and was cash-rich from both its own profits and new investors.
Casey is closely involved with helping Irish business tap into China as a member of the advisory group for the Government-backed Global Irish Network, as well as being start-up ambassador to China for Enterprise Ireland.
"In business today, geography is history," Casey said. "There is a rapidly growing Chinese middle class that Ireland needs to go after," he elaborated.
Food, agriculture, education and luxury brands were among the areas that Casey said Ireland could excel at in China.
Casey said that New Zealand had already captured 40 per cent of the $20bn Chinese dairy market and there was no reason why Ireland couldn't compete for a slice of that.
"If we can compete with New Zealand in rugby, then there is no reason we cannot take them on in the dairy sector," Casey said.
In terms of investment into Ireland, Casey said it was important not only to look towards the mega-investors but also to look at bringing in smaller Chinese companies interested in selling into Europe.
"The Athlone trading hub could be a good concept to help," Casey said. "There are opportunities for Chinese start-ups to come here. They have a good perception of us and they also know we are the largest exporters of software in Europe."
Headquartered in Cork, most of PCH's activities are based in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.
The firm does not disclose who its clients are but Apple, the maker of the iPad and iPhone, named it earlier this year as among a list of 156 suppliers in its annual supplier audit.
Sunday Indo Business