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A changing landscape: Ireland’s role on the global stage

With our economy reopening and a Government roadmap to restore air connectivity, it is time to remind the global talent pool that Ireland is an open, vibrant and dynamic place

Gareth Lambe, 2021 AmCham President and Head of Facebook Ireland & VP of Business Planning & Operations

Gareth Lambe, 2021 AmCham President and Head of Facebook Ireland & VP of Business Planning & Operations

 

As 2021 President in American Chamber of Commerce Ireland's (AmCham) 60th anniversary year, I have seen first-hand how the Irish operations of US multinationals continue to be the shining lights of their global operations. A new independent public opinion survey conducted by iReach on behalf of AmCham shows the general public’s positive view of the sector. When asked if US companies’ contribution to the Irish economy will be very important to Ireland’s post pandemic economic recovery, more than nine out of 10 (93 percent) of the public said yes. The perception reflects the reality too, US firms now employ 180,000 people and contributed about 22 billion to the Irish economy last year through payroll, capital expenditure and spend with local suppliers.

Keeping Ireland as an attractive location for inward investment requires constant focus and attention. As US FDI accounts for 70 percent of total inward investment in Ireland, AmCham recently hosted a Global Business Conference, supported by Bank of America and attended by over 800 delegates virtually. AmCham welcomed keynote speakers including Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation & Science Simon Harris, Acting US Ambassador Alexandra McKnight and Washington DC Mayor, Muriel Bowser and industry leaders to give their view. The key issues discussed included talent, inclusion,, innovation, the future of work and the global tax agenda. I took away three main reflections:

Firstly, the drivers to attract and retain talent are evolving. It’s not just where a company or jobs are located which will attract talent in the future but where people want to live. That means emphasis is needed on improving quality of life outcomes, and the lifestyle available to those who choose to base themselves and their families here.

We are starting from a strong base. The UN rates Ireland second in the world for quality of life and in the top five globally for life expectancy and income levels. However, in a world where people can increasingly choose to work from anywhere, we have to move faster on solving the problems that are holding us back. These include the residential accommodation crisis, gaps in digital and physical infrastructure and barriers to full female workplace participation.

Ireland will remain agile and competitive, and we will continue to invest in an educated, adaptable and dynamic workforce

With our economy reopening and a Government roadmap to restore air connectivity, it is time to remind the global talent pool that Ireland is an open, vibrant and dynamic place to build and develop a global career.

Secondly, the future of work is shifting. Whether it’s virtual onboarding or the demand from employees for flexible working hours, a future of hybrid working for those sectors that can accommodate it is an evolving reality. The immediate ask of our policymakers is continued investment in infrastructure and the continued rollout of high-speed broadband to ensure no community gets left behind. Companies are investing heavily in developing their flexible work policies to create fair and sustainable work practices. Companies want to ensure no one is placed at a disadvantage for opting in or out of flexible working. Equally, diversity, equity and inclusion policies will play a central role in ensuring no one is disadvantaged because of background, nationality or gender.

Thirdly, global affairs will impact Ireland’s future. The renewed focus on multilateralism by the US Administration has revitalised international relations. Sustainability and Transatlantic co-operation on threats like cybercrime are just some of the areas likely to benefit from United States leadership.  Resolving the question of global taxation within the OECD Inclusive Framework is also of major importance to companies. Ireland continues to engage with the process and our conference delegates welcomed the statement by Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe that “Ireland will remain agile and competitive, and, importantly, we will continue to invest in an educated, adaptable and dynamic workforce - a workforce that has consistently delivered innovation, profitability and stability over many decades for businesses that have taken the strategic decision to build a substantial presence here.”

Ireland continues to be a trusted transatlantic bridge to European and global markets

Building bridges better

As an organisation, AmCham remains confident that through strong collaboration between the inward investment sector and the domestic economy, Ireland is primed to bounce back and build on our strong economic fundamentals. Ireland continues to be a trusted transatlantic bridge to European and global markets - which explains why one third of US companies have been present for over 20 years here. The unique US-Ireland business partnership is built on talent, innovation and shared values – attributes I am confident will endure long into the future.

Download ‘Building Bridges Better’, the new report from AmCham

Front cover, top image ‘Lunch Atop a Skyscraper’, New York City, 1932 © Charles C. Ebbets, Thomas Kelley or William Leftwich; depicts 11 depression-era steelworker, including Irish emigrants, perched upon a narrow steel girder over the Manhattan skyline.

Front cover, bottom image AmCham event, Dublin, April 2019: pictured with US Speaker Nancy Pelosi are Sharon Cunningham CEO/Co-Founder of Shorla Pharma and Orlaith Ryan CTO/Co-Founder of Shorla Pharma (AmCham members). Founded in Ireland, with a growing US operation, Shorla specialises in developing innovative oncology drugs, with a focus on orphan and paediatric cancers. With strong support from scientists and clinicians, plus an extensive industry network that includes the Children’s Oncology Group in the US, the company has an advanced pipeline of oncology therapies to treat a number of unmet patient needs. In April 2021, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) accepted for filing, Shorla’s application for its SH-111 a lifesaving oncology drug designed to treat T-cell leukaemia.