Many countries owe their wealth and prosperity to natural resources such as coal, oil, gas and precious metals.

Others enrich themselves through conquest and colonialism. Some choose to do both.

Ireland has no history of conquest, nor a legacy as a colonizer. Our natural resources are largely limited to our landscape, agriculture, wind and waves.

Yet, in a world of nearly 200 nations, Ireland is consistently ranked in the top 10 or 20 in terms of prosperity and high standard of living. This is because our prosperity depends on our land and our people, our natural reservoir of talents and abilities. We produce this talent in Ireland and sell it worldwide.

It’s easy to forget how dependent we are on trade. Our success and our standard of living are based on a formula of international exchange of goods and services, our attractiveness as a place of investment and our ability to enter into international free trade agreements with other countries.

This formula is reinforced by our position at the heart of the European Union, its single market and the euro zone.

We will not succeed by standing still. We gotta get ahead of the next wave and catch it

Day after day, our corporate agencies, civil servants and diplomats reinforce this formula.

We literally cannot afford to take it for granted, especially in a changing world before our eyes, which has seen a return to protectionism in some quarters and a return to conquest and colonialism in others.

Covid, Brexit, international tax reforms, new technologies, the need for drastic action to reduce our emissions and Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine have all caused huge disruptions to trade over the past few years. last years. They have redefined the future risks, challenges and opportunities of trading in the future.

Yet as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment I find myself in the odd position that trade policy is rarely debated in the Dáil and when it is it is not for debate how to develop trade.

It makes me fear that many take Ireland’s recent economic success for granted. We need to ensure that Irish businesses will continue to grow, that trade and employment will grow, that we will attract more inward investment and that we will have the skills and talent to sustain this model for years to come. .

We should talk about it and debate it. We will not succeed by standing still. We have to get ahead of the next wave and catch it.

In a changing world before our eyes, it is right to think and plan for the long term.

It is therefore timely to publish a new trade and investment strategy: Values ​​for Ireland, Values ​​for the World.

This new strategy, which will be released later this week, sets out our plans for trade and investment, as well as climate and sustainability: our principles-based and holistic approach to trade policy.

I will chair a new intergovernmental and inter-institutional trade and investment council to oversee the implementation of the strategy and its seven priority actions.

They include:

– Participate in our wider ecosystem to maintain and improve our competitiveness, grow Irish businesses, attract FDI and maintain a high standard of living

– Establish a group of experts on value chains and global supply chains to identify opportunities and threats in the global supply chain. The group will examine themes such as economic nationalism, open strategic autonomy and “reshoring” initiatives

– Launch an Irish Government communications campaign to highlight the benefits of international trade and investment to a wider Irish audience and foster a better understanding of the important role trade and investment play in creation jobs and promoting the wider interests of Ireland and the EU, including our values, principles and standards.

– One government-wide trade mission per year.

– Make companies aware of our network of free trade agreements and tax treaties.

This new strategy gives us the opportunity to examine the changing global landscape and its implications for trade.

Record levels of trade cannot be taken for granted. Maintaining and expanding global trade on a principled basis will remain essential to Ireland’s economic well-being, standard of living and sustainable development.

Leo Varadkar is Tánaiste and Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

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