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Irish minister spreads positive message in Luxembourg
World

Irish minister spreads positive message in Luxembourg

2 min. 16.03.2012 From our online archive
Ireland's agricultural minister called off in Luxembourg to update Irish expatriates on the progress of their native country in the face of recent economic difficulties.

Ireland's agricultural minister called off in Luxembourg to update Irish expatriates on the progress of their native country in the face of recent economic difficulties.

Simon Coveney was one of 17 ministers to be sent to key Irish expatriate and trade hubs around the world ahead of the Irish national holiday, Saint Patrick's day, on March 17.

Calling off at Luxembourg in the second day of a three-day tour of the Benelux countries, the minister was upbeat about the country's progress since last year's elections.

“I think we've a positive optimistic story this year. Ireland is on the road to recovering. It's going to take some time still. But, we're in a much better place than we were 12 months ago,” he said.

Since Ireland's banking and housing collapse, Mr Coveney explained the positive progress made to secure the Irish banks by merging smaller institutions and recapitalising two of the larger banks or “key pillars” at a cost of 16 billion euros. He said: “We've recapitalised two key pillar banks that are not back in perfect shape yet but they are on their way there.”

In addition, Mr Coveney said the country had achieved 70% of the “corrections” required to ease the Irish deficit. The next step, he explained, was to work on growing the economy and job market, areas he was confident that Ireland had a competitive edge in given the that the cost of wages fell 14% during the last three years.

Such a success story should make Ireland the envy of such stricken countries as Greece. However, the minister believed that the two countries could not be compared given that Ireland experienced a property and banking crisis and had assets other than tourism, such as exports, to fall back on.

Indeed, the country's exports were among the key areas in which growth had been noted, rising 4.5% in 2011 and 6.5% in 2010, despite the domestic recession.

Food exports are a crucial growth area. According to the minister, Ireland exports 90% of the food it produces. The minister hopes to increase food exports when the EU milk quota is disbanded in a bid to export to Asia, among other countries. Meanwhile, his country's work in encouraging a revision of the US trade rules on beef imports could help see further export growth for Ireland and Europe as a whole.