Ireland can leverage its experience in construction services and project financing to facilitate the Belt and Road Initiative and Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area infrastructure construction projects, the minister of state at the Department of Finance in Ireland, Michael D’Arcy, told China Daily in an interview.
“Irish skill sets are very rich, with strong knowledge bases. We believe these can be tapped to render assistance,” D’ Arcy told China Daily.
The country has cultivated domestic construction skill sets, particularly in civil engineering and structured engineering, as well as architectural and quantitative surveying services, and this should help to facilitate the vast infrastructure projects, he said.
Ireland can also help with project financing, as a member of the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, to provide infrastructure financing to economies involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, D’Arcy added. The country is also a director of the European Investment Bank－the world’s largest public lending institution that provides project financing.
Unveiled by President Xi Jinping in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative covers more than 60 economies across Asia, Europe and Africa, accounting for 30 percent of global GDP. By 2050, economies involved in the initiative will contribute 80 percent of worldwide GDP growth, according to a forecast by McKinsey Global Institute.
As stated in Premier Li Keqiang’s Government Work Report last year, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area blueprint refers to the city cluster formed by nine cities in the Pearl River Delta, including Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Foshan, Dongguan, Zhuhai, Huizhou, Zhongshan, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing, as well as the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao.
In terms of financial services, Ireland is the dominant player in the global aviation leasing industry. It is also the world’s largest base for fund administrators and asset managers, with $4 trillion in funds domiciled there, according to D’Arcy. He added that Ireland will be the third-largest financial services exporter in the European Union after the United Kingdom leaves the bloc.
Besides aviation finance and fund management, Ireland has cultivated a clear niche in financial technology, insurance and banking payment services.
“We are eager to expand our services expertise to promote Ireland-China financial services cooperation,” the Irish financial services chief said.
The country serves as a bridge between the United States and Asia. There are currently 400 Irish companies with operations in Southeast Asia and 170 Irish firms stationed in China.
“Many US technology giants, such as Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Google, have set up their European and Middle East headquarters in the capital city of Dublin. Their decisions to expand into China would come from Dublin, which will benefit the Chinese economy,” D’Arcy noted.