|Irish heritage: Irish people celebrate St Patrick’s Day. - Photo courtesy of the Embassy of Ireland|
To mark the occasion of Ireland’s St Patrick’s Day today, Việt Nam News presents an article written by the Ambassador of Ireland to Việt Nam, Cáit Moran.
Every year on March 17, Ireland and the Irish people celebrate our national day, St Patrick’s Day. This is a global celebration – over 70 million people around the world claim Irish heritage and many more have become firm friends and fans of all things Irish, including here in Việt Nam. This year, the celebration in Hà Nội is particularly special as Viêt Nam and Ireland are marking the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
Ireland opened an embassy in Hà Nội just over 10 years ago. At the heart of our mission was the desire to assist Việt Nam in reducing poverty and to share Ireland’s development experience in a way that could support Việt Nam in its own development.
Trade between our two countries has grown fivefold in the last eight years. The advent of the European Union-Việt Nam Free Trade Agreement will enable and incentivise further trade. We hope to deepen our collaboration in the fields of education, agri-food and aviation services in the years ahead. Irish businesses from the dairy, seafood, consultancy and building materials sectors are investing and trading with Việt Nam more than ever before, and the Irish Business Association of Việt Nam is expanding its membership.
We are well placed to do this. Ireland has been the fastest growing economy in the European Union for three years in a row, with current GDP growth at well over 6 per cent. Ireland maintained its position as the best country in the Eurozone for doing business, according to Forbes magazine rankings in 2015, and came in fourth overall in the world. This ranking is testament to Ireland’s favourable business and regulatory climate. Ireland is home to: nine of the top 10 global software companies; all of the top 10 ‘Born on the Internet’ companies; nine of the top 10 global pharmaceutical firms; and 15 of the 20 top global medical technologies companies.
The turnaround in Ireland’s fortunes since the devastating global financial crisis and recession has been nothing short of remarkable. Difficult fiscal reforms and sound economic policies have paved the way for the sustained, broad-based economic growth that we have achieved. Ireland’s economic success is thanks in no small part to the hard work and resilience of the Irish people, and their spirit of innovation and creativity.
The high quality of Ireland’s education system – and its link to industry - has been a critical factor in Ireland’s economic success. Education is a priority area for future collaboration between Ireland and Việt Nam. In Ireland, our focus on education and innovation has driven the growth of our economy, producing graduates that are suited to today’s technology intensive industries. Irish universities are ranked in the top 3 per cent of worldwide universities. This creates a unique opportunity for international students at undergraduate and postgraduate levels to join research programmes that are driving innovation and changing lives worldwide. Last year, our embassy launched a pilot initiative, the Việt Nam Ireland Bilateral Education Exchange (VIBE) programme, to support research and development partnerships between Vietnamese and Irish Universities and research institutions.
The agri-food sector is Ireland’s largest indigenous industry. Each year, Irish food and drinks are exported to over 175 markets around the world, including Việt Nam. I am delighted that Irish dairy, pork and beverage products are now available in the Vietnamese market. Through the Origin Green initiative, launched in 2012, Ireland has become a global leader in sustainable food production, with innovative tools for measuring and improving our carbon footprint at all stages of the food chain and world class systems on food quality and traceability for consumer assurance. Ireland is well positioned to work with Việt Nam in respect of the challenges of modernising agri-systems and adding value to domestic exports.
I know that with the support of Government, the business community, civil society and our strong alumni networks, the collaboration between Việt Nam and Ireland will continue to grow.
For today, I want to wish the Irish community and all of the friends of Ireland in Việt Nam a very happy St Patrick’s Day. -- VNS