China visit explores connections ranging from business to culture

Plans for cooperating with the Chinese district of Suzhou in business, software technology, culture and craft, parks, schools and tourism were on the agenda as a local delegation visited China earlier this month.

Plans for cooperating with the Chinese district of Suzhou in business, software technology, culture and craft, parks, schools and tourism were on the agenda as a local delegation visited China earlier this month.

The seven-day visit was led by Environment Minister Phil Hogan, the delegation included Kilkenny County Council chairwoman Marie Fitzpatrick, county manager Joe Crockett, Connect Ireland CEO Michael McLoughlin, Glanbia Agri-Business CEO Colm Eustace, Keenans CEO Jim Greene and officials from the Department of the Environment.

The connections that will now be explored include economic links with South East companies wishing to do business in Suzhou and vice versa; software technology cooperation between the TSSG research and development centre and Suzhou Technology; a cultural exchange with a particular focus on silk works of art with the Crafts Council of Ireland and the Kilkenny-based National Craft Gallery; an exchange in parks development; links between secondary and primary schools in Suzhou and Kilkenny; and tourism opportunities between the two twinned areas.

Business links on the trip included Glanbia’s growing market in China. As Glanbia Agri-Business CEO Colm Eustace said in a statement: “We were delighted to have the opportunity to showcase our nutritionals facility in Suzhou and our Shanghai-based dairy trading team. China, with a growing demand for dairy, is a significant market for Glanbia – and as such this trade mission helped to demonstrate the scope for Irish dairy exports which is very relevant to the whole milk expansion project in Ireland post-2015. From an agribusiness perspective it was good to get an insight into the workings of this sector within China, through meetings with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and hopefully this might lead to some opportunities in the future for Glanbia Agribusiness.”