The Asia Pacific Ireland Business Forum is a unique construction focussed on building connections between & with the GAA Clubs & business groups based in the Asia-Pacific & Gulf Regions. Introduced formally in 2007, the APIBF events bring together Irish business people, people doing business with Ireland & Friends of Ireland in the dynamic Asia-Pacific & Gulf Regions.
The early commitment by Dick Spring, FEXCO and former Tánaiste & Minister of Foreign Affairs to travel to Singapore in 2007 to attend the inaugural APIBF enhanced the credibility & prestige of the day-long event. His participation since that time has been a constant support to the voluntary team who organise the annual events.
Since 2007, the APIBF has grown in substance & has become a feature of the annual Asian Gaelic Games weekend. It has been hosted successively in Penang, Malaysia (2008), Bangkok, Thailand (2009), Hong Kong, China (2010), Seoul KOrea (2011) with Ireland rounds held in Dublin in 2011 and 2012, attracting in excess of over 1,000 individual attendees from around the region & from Ireland, between all the events.
An important development in 2011 was the work to reach out to the Irish business community based in Ireland to improve the awareness of Asia, to share experience & to forge connections with the Irish business networks working in the region.
The GAA was hugely enthusiastic about the concept & the GAA President Christy Cooney was familiar with the APIBF work through his participation at the APIBF 2010 in Hong Kong.
The APIBF Conference at Croke Park on 17 June 2011 at Croke Park attracted 300+ delegates from Ireland & Asia with keynote speakers from both regions & including the Tánaiste & Minister of Foreign Affairs & Trade, Eamon Gilmore. A special feature of the half day forum was the active participation of representatives of most of the major business groups and networks in Ireland, including Imelda Reynolds (Dublin Chamber of Commerce), Colin Lawlor (Irish Exporters Association), Danny McCoy (IBEC), Ian Talbot (Chambers Ireland) and Mark Fielding (ISME), together with Ambassadors and trade representatives of a number of Asian countries.
The event was followed up by a hugely successful 2012 conference in Croke Park where the Taoiseach Enda Kenny gave the keynote address, supported by leaders of Irish business in Asia, and ambassadorial representatives of the Asian diplomatic corps in Ireland.
A further tangible support for Irish business has been the publication of the APIBF Business Directory 2011-12 which includes details of Irish business groups and key contacts in the Asia-Pacific and Gulf Regions. This valuable resource for Irish business was supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The 6th annual Asia Pacific Ireland Business Forum will be hosted by the Malaysia Ireland Business Network in Kuala Lumpur on 25 October, on the eve of the 17th annual Asian Gaelic Games.
The Asia Pacific Ireland Business Forum has been run to date entirely by voluntary effort with the generous support of a range of sponsors in particular PCH International and Enterprise Ireland. The Irish Embassies in the region have also been very helpful & active in their support. Special thanks are due to Liam Casey of PCH for his ongoing interest & support.
None of this work would be possible without the support of the Irish business groups in Asia-Pacific & the Gulf, GAA Clubs & Asian County Board which have enthusiastically adopted & supported this initiative from the outset.
Ní neart go cur le chéile - No strength without unity.