'Massive' Irish gains from open markets
David OSullivan, of the European External Action Service at the European Commission pictured with The Irish Times Ltd managing director Liam Kavanagh, the newly elected president of Dublin Chamber of Commerce and Gina Quin, the chamber's chief executive. photograph: fennell photography
EU efforts to boost free trade with the US and the rest of the world will bring “massive benefits” to the Republic, a senior European Commission official told a gathering of business people yesterday.
Addressing the Dublin Chamber of Commerce agm late yesterday, Irishman David O’Sullivan, who is chief operating officer of the commission’s European External Action Service, said membership of the EU was in the Republic’s best economic interest.
Mr O’Sullivan said that while the EU was committed to the World Trade Organisation, it was also continuing to open markets through bilateral agreements with both the US and economies in Asia.
“If we succeed in these negotiations the EU will become the hub of the largest free trade network ever seen, stretching from North America, through to India and the Far East,” Mr O’Sullivan told the meeting.
“It will bring massive economic benefits to all our member states, especially to those such as Ireland, for whom open markets are the lifeblood of economic success.”
Mr O’Sullivan pointed out that the transatlantic economy – the EU and US – was the globe’s biggest and richest, generating half of the world’s wealth. The two were also each other’s primary sources and destinations of foreign direct investment.
“Taking down trade barriers between us – in particular, regulatory barriers – will have a huge effect, underpinning our interdependence and co-operation on the global scene,” he said.
“The economic benefits of an agreement are, therefore, clear, especially for Ireland which has such strong trade and investment links with the US.”
Mr O’Sullivan also predicted that the UK, one of the Republic’s biggest EU trading partners, would remain as a full member of the union, although he said the debate within the country was likely to run for some time.
“But I remain very confident that the conclusion will be that the UK’s interests will be best served by remaining a full and active member of the union.”
Liam Kavanagh, managing director of The Irish Times Ltd, took over as president of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce at the organisation’s annual general meeting yesterday. He succeeded Greencore chief executive Patrick Coveney.
The chamber’s membership includes a large number of the Republic’s biggest companies.