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BW Businessworld

‘We In Ireland See India As The Fastest Growing Economy In The World’

BW Businessworld captures the growing mutual trade between the two countries in these two exclusive interviews: John Bruton, Former Prime Minister of Ireland and Pat Breen, Minister of Employment and Small Business, Ireland

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Indo-Irish trade ties are at an all-time high, especially after Narendra Modi’s visit to Ireland recently and that of Ireland’s Minister for Employment and Small Business to India. BW Businessworld captures the growing mutual trade between the two countries in these two exclusive interviews: John Bruton, Former Prime Minister of Ireland and Pat Breen, Minister of Employment and Small Business, Ireland.

‘After Brexit Ireland will be the only English speaking country in EU’

In an exclusive interview to BWBusinessworld’s Brij Pahwa, former Prime Minister of Ireland John Bruton shares his perspective on contemporary developments in the world and the future of trade relations between India and Ireland.

Excerpts:

What are the expectations from your visit to India?
Well in Ireland, we see India as the fastest growing economy in the world. Soon eventually, I think, it will become the largest economy of the world.

Because of its relatively youthful population, the Indian economy is likely to grow while other economies of Asia might slow down. So we see India as a place in which one should make long-term investments and that’s what I am here to support.

Donald Trump has been elected as the president of the most powerful country in the world to the shock and dismay of many. How do you make sense of Trump’s victory? Do you think the world’s oldest democracy is moving from being a moderate one to a more extremist one?
Well, Donald Trump has won the election and he has won it clearly. There is an obligation on everybody else in the world now to accept that result and to walk with him. I think that he has given a very firm commitment in his acceptance speech to invest substantially in the infrastructure, the roads and airports of the United States and that I think will create many opportunities for people from other parts of the world to invest in United States. We should support that.

On the other hand, he has made suggestions that would involve very high tariffs being imposed unilaterally by the United States on imports from other countries including Mexico that could initiate a trade war.

I think we need to discuss with him and listen to him. And he did say that he would deal in an open way with other countries on the basis of fairness. So we have an opportunity to persuade him on what we are looking for is fair.

Brexit was another extremist event which happened in Europe a few months ago. What according to you will be the long-term impact of Brexit, something which hasn’t yet surfaced?
The EU is already facing a number of other problems, like the refugee issue, the problem of ratifying our trade agreements with Canada, which was only achieved with considerable difficulty, among others. Thus, while we have many internal issues to resolve we have a new external problem which is negotiating with a country that is leaving the EU.

As a result of this though, Ireland will be the only English speaking country remaining in the European Union which might serve in our favour and attract investments.

Good to hear an insider’s opinion. Coming to Ireland’s trade with India, do you think that better political relations between India and Ireland can give rise to better trade relations between the two?
I do. India’s economy is so much bigger than Ireland’s. Ireland has a small economy. Though both the economies are intrinsically similar. Both have developed a very strong service sector. Both are very strong in software development, information technology, pharmaceuticals and a range of various things, where its people’s brain rather than their muscles, that is producing the wealth. So, the two economies complement one another. And I do see the rise of better trade relations in future because of these commonalities.

‘‘We in Ireland see India as the fastest growing economy in the world’

In an exclusive interaction, Pat Breen, Minister for Employment and Small Business, Ireland talks to BWBusinessworld’s Brij Pahwa about the recent trade delegation he led to India. Excerpts:

Could you tell us about the purpose of your visit to India this time?

Ireland and India have had close relations through the years and we would want this to continue. This trade mission to India is an important one. De facto, Ireland is currently the fastest growing economy in Europe and India is the fastest growing economy in the world. And I am delighted to be here leading this trade mission which focuses on sectors such as information technology, education and aviation.

How important is India as a trade partner for Ireland?
India is an important avenue of trade for us. Fourteen companies have come with us for this Trade Indian investment mission. And they are the best in their sectors. I think that it is important for us to ensure that we showcase the best of Irish companies. We have had workshops and meetings with Indian companies including those that have a footprint in Ireland like Wipro. I met some government ministers as well and discussed trade initiatives that are beneficial for both the countries.

PM Modi visited Ireland recently and it seems that he is really taking keen interest in Indo-Ireland bilateral trade. What is the Irish government’s perspective on the same and where do you see the bilateral trade in a few years from now?

Taking the optimistic stand of point, we see trade growing substantially in a few years. PM Modi’s visit was a very important one for us in Ireland. He met Ireland’s PM Enda Kenny along with other ministers, particularly those concerned with education. An MoU was also signed in the field of education during Modi’s visit to Dublin. We are also looking forward to an opportunity where the Irish PM visits India to promote friendly relations between both the countries.

You mentioned aviation as an area of interest for Irish companies in India. Do we see any joint Indo-Irish private ventures in aviation anytime soon?
Yes, we have two of the most successful airlines in Europe and we would encourage some pacts between the top airlines of India and Ireland. Apart from that we would fully cooperate if Indian airline companies would want to use Ireland’s airports for transit to US. Also, direct air links between India and Ireland would send a positive message to companies in both the countries.