*Mr Chen Jinshan, member of the Standing Committee of CPC Shanghai Municipal Committee and director of Lin-gang Special Area Administration (centre) pictured with members of the delegation, Shannon Chamber president Eoin Gavin, CEO Helen Downes and director Kevin Thompstone, and Shannon Chamber member companies, FMCI, Tekelek and AGC Instruments during his visit to Shannon Chamber. Photograph by Eamon Ward

OPPORTUNITIES TO cooperate with companies in the Shannon Free Zone were explored by a Chinese delegation who visited Co Clare last week.

A nine-person delegation from Lin-gang Special Area of China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone were in Shannon last week where they held meetings with Shannon Chamber, the Shannon Airport Group and Future Mobility Campus Ireland (FMCI).

Representatives from Lin-gang Special Area Administration, including its director Mr. Chen Jinshan, member of the Standing Committee of CPC Shanghai Municipal Committee, and representatives from Shanghai Foreign Affairs Office were part of the delegation.

Former CEO of Shannon Development, Kevin Thompstone gave a presentation on the Shannon Free Zone. A presentation on the 873 square kilometers Lin-gang Special Area Administration was given by Mr Lin Yisong, director of Yangshan Free Trade Zone Division, Lin-gang Special Area Administration.

Lin-gang is located at the southeast corner of Shanghai, with Pudong International Airport, the third largest airport in the world, at its north, and Yangshan Deep-Water Port, the largest container port in the world, at its south.

Two Shannon companies, Tekelek and AGC Instruments, currently operating with and in China also gave presentations. Tekelek, which is a global leader in liquid level sensors and receivers for tank monitoring, supplies five million sensors across 60 countries and designs and manufactures customised electronic controls for the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) sector. Tekelek Asia has a manufacturing facility in Shenzhen and a shipping office in Hong Kong.

Manufacturing high purity gas analysis systems for over 30 countries and exporting approximately fifty-five per cent of its product to China, AGC instruments has a sales and service presence in China, employing fourteen people. Both companies are exploring new opportunities in China.

In outlining the transformation that has taken place at Shannon Free Zone since its foundation in 1960 to the present day, Thompstone pointed out the connections that existed between Shannon and China over the years, most notably the fact that China’s first special economic zone (SEZ) at Shenzen was based on the Shannon model. “In 1980, Jiang Zemin, then Senior Vice Minister of State Imports and Exports Administration, visited Shannon for a UNIDO sponsored training course to study the Shannon Free Zone and related regional economic initiatives. The experience from Shannon was subsequently used in the development of China’s Special Economic Zones”.

The Shannon China connection was further reinforced through regular visits by Chinese leaders – Premier Zhu Rongji (September 2001), Premier Wen Jiabao (May 2004), Vice Premier Huang Ju (November 2004), Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan (September 2006), and Vice President Xi Jinping, (February 2012).

In thanking Shannon Chamber for hosting the visit, Mr. Chen Jinshan said that notwithstanding the fact that Shannon does not have many natural resources or a population of the scale of China, he was impressed by its secret recipe, which he described as its open mindedness, and its ability to develop its infrastructure in line with business needs. He stated that a good business model does not always ensure a bright future but the willingness to adapt to changing conditions does.

Commenting on the value of a visit of this nature, Shannon Chamber chief executive, Helen Downes said: “As evidenced during the presentations, China offers many opportunities to our member companies, in terms of export and business growth. The potential to develop linkages between both economic zones is more long-term; the starting point is to develop a mechanism to encourage companies to move in both directions. This is something we would be keen to explore”.

The delegation’s visit to Shannon was arranged in conjunction with SEABRIDGE.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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