Brexit will attract investors to Ireland, says Canadian business leader

Goldy Hyder says firms seeking stability want to avoid ‘short-term pain’ of UK’s exit

Goldy Hyder urged the Irish Government to ratify the EU-Canada trade deal, Ceta. Photograph: iStock

Goldy Hyder urged the Irish Government to ratify the EU-Canada trade deal, Ceta. Photograph: iStock

 

Brexit will present a “tremendous opportunity for Ireland” to attract investors concerned about the “short-term pain” facing the UK, the head of Canada’s most powerful business lobby group has said.

Goldy Hyder, president of the Business Council of Canada, which represents the chief executives of 150 large Canadian companies, said Ireland becoming the only English-speaking country in Europe under the EU-Canadian free trade agreement after Brexit made the State “an attractive destination for capital and talent”.

As the UK endures the “pain” of leaving the EU, Ireland could draw more investment from businesses in Canada that are looking for certainty in the political and business world, said Mr Hyder on a visit to Dublin.

“Businesses take a view of who offers me, as a business, the predictable, stable regulatory environment and also an environment that is attractive from the tax and talent side, and the Irish story is a very strong one,” said Mr Hyder, who represents companies accounting for half the value of Toronto’s stock exchange.

Ireland’s “resilience and rebound culture” in the decade since the financial crash and its embrace of an entrepreneurial culture, trade and multiculturalism “bode well for Ireland to be a magnet for both capital and talent” at a time when many other parts of the world were “going in other directions”, he said.

“If Ireland was a stock, I would buy. It’s probably ‘buy low’ right now still. I don’t think Ireland has achieved its full potential,” said Mr Hyder, who spoke at the annual Maple Leaf dinner of the Ireland Canada Business Association on Friday night.

Brexit an ‘anomaly’

Visiting Dublin after three days in the UK, which included a meeting at 10 Downing Street, Mr Hyder said Brexit was “unfortunate” and he hoped it was “an anomaly” while the world was breaking down into large trading blocs that provided businesses with predictability, certainty and confidence in markets.

Speaking a day after the EU and UK reached agreement on a new Brexit deal, he said he was “very pleased” to see the Irish-UK relationship remaining strong even on a bilateral rather than multilateral basis.

“Don’t short the UK,” he said, referring to the market bet against a share. “There may well be some short-term pain, but even their slogan – keep calm and carry on – has a certain applicability in this situation for them. There is a resilience and a resolve to continue.”

Mr Hyder expects the Conservatives to push for a UK-Canada free trade deal if Andrew Scheer unseats Canada’s liberal prime minister, Justin Trudeau, in Monday’s election.

He urged the Irish Government to ratify the EU-Canada trade deal, known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or Ceta, as soon as possible to give business “confidence” in the deal.

Asked about Aer Lingus’s postponement of a new Dublin-Montreal air route because of the unavailability of new aircraft, Mr Hyder said Canadian airlines Air Canada and WestJet had established routes with Ireland and that these routes would lead to the launch of more to serve growing tourism between the countries.

“I think tourism is going to see a significant bump. It’s just natural,” he said.