The CEO of Athlone Business Park Ltd, the company behind the International Chinese Hub in Athlone, spoke to the Leader on Monday where he indicated that it will cost €175m to construct the proposed development.
John Tiernan also said that the Hub would enhance the midlands and that local home-grown industry would not be negatively impacted by the development.
“Phase one of the project will cost approximately €175m to construct and it is intended that it will be backed by private finance from China, although this is yet to be secured,” Mr Tiernan added.
“The project will generate approximately 1,200 jobs in construction, all of which will be allocated to European Economic Area nationals. At operational stage approximately 1,500 jobs will be generated with at least two thirds – 1,000 – allocated to EEA Nationals.”
When asked if a venture on a scale such as this would impact negatively on local home-grown businesses who may find themselves competing with the manufacturing of similar goods, on a larger and cheaper scale by the Chinese, the CEO stated that if the project had not been developed in Ireland, it would have been developed elsewhere in Europe.
“Any issues relating to competition, therefore, will emerge in the markets in any case,” he explained.
“However, it is not deemed that Irish manufacturers will be affected due to the scale of bulk purchases that will be involved. Furthermore Irish producers will be accommodated within the trade hub, thus giving access to the large footfall of international trade buyers.”
Mr Tiernan went on to say that infrastructure, including rail networks and roads leading to Athlone had been examined in the months prior to the granting of planning permission and it was now envisaged that “transportation requirements” to Athlone, “had been met”.
“The Planning application and EIS addressed all relevant transportation issues and the local authority, An Bord Pleanala, National Roads Authority (NRA) and other relevant bodies have deemed the project as proposed, suitable in terms of transportation requirements,” he added.
“It has been estimated that Phase one of this project will inject €131m into the Irish economy annually and it is not about bringing China to Ireland - rather it is about bringing Chinese products to the EU and Eastern US markets. The hub will be visited by international trade buyers and there will be no negative impacts for Irish enterprises.
The project will provide space for Irish manufacturers/enterprises to display their goods and this will benefit any such ventures with exposure to the expected large scale international buyers and trade buyers.
The benefits to Ireland will be manifold including amongst other things boosting the economy, employment generation, increasing awareness and trade between China and Ireland and the creation of a strong link/bridgehead with the emerging leading economy in the world.”