Kenny and Noonan in Davos to secure Ireland’s economic position
Brexit and potential changes to US tax law present unprecedented challenges for State
Attendees at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Enda Kenny is due to hold a series of bilateral meetings with senior figures in the banking, telecommunications and pharmaceutical worlds. Photograph: Laurent Gillieron/EPA
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Finance Michael Noonan arrived in Davos on Wednesday afternoon in a bid to secure Ireland’s position as a global investment location as the twin challenges of Brexit and potential changes to US tax policy present unprecedented challenges to Ireland’s economic model.
The Taoiseach is due to hold a series of bilateral meetings with senior figures in the banking, telecommunications and pharmaceutical worlds, including the chairman of Lloyd’s of London chief executive Inga Beale.
The insurance market is due to announce details on its new location for its European subsidiary in the coming months.
On Wednesday, the chief executive of British bank HSBC, Stuart Gulliver, said the bank intends to move some staff to Paris after Britain leaves the European Union. Sources said Irish officials are also in contact with HSBC which already has a presence in Dublin, in a bid to secure further investment into Ireland.
Both Mr Kenny and Mr Noonan will attend an IDA dinner on Thursday evening which will be attended by approximately 50 current and prospective clients, most of whom will be represented at chief executive or chief operating officer level.
Speaking in Davos, IDA chief executive Martin Shanahan said that most of the discussions with clients this year focused on Brexit and its implications for Ireland. “Our message this year is ‘Ireland is the closest thing you can get to the UK – only better’,” he said.
“We are making it clear to investors that Ireland continues to offer advantages in terms of taxation, talent and a proven track record, but that it also offers a guaranteed access to the European market.”
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Mr Shanahan said that Tuesday’s speech by British prime minister Theresa May had provided a certain amount of clarity to business about Britain’s ultimate destination but questions still remain about what a future trade deal between Britain and the EU will look like.
“This year we are finding that Brexit, and Ireland’s position once Britain leaves the European Union, are coming up in conversations with both existing and prospective clients,” he said.
The IDA, which will be present in Davos until Saturday, is meeting a number of senior representatives from the financial services industry as well as the technology and pharmaceutical sectors over the coming days.
Mr Shanahan has also given a number of interviews to international media outlets including Bloomberg, France24 and the New York Times.
Elsewhere, Ireland is less represented than usual at the annual gathering in Davos.
U2 frontman Bono is not in attendance this year, while businessman Denis O’Brien, a regular Davos-goer, did not make the journey to Switzerland.
However, Web Summit founder Paddy Cosgrave is attending the event.
The Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin is also making an impact at the five-day event. It is exhibiting two pieces that have been recently shown at the gallery in Dublin – Portraits by 3 RNP is an interactive piece by French artist Patrick Tresst in which three robots, controlled by a computer, sketch portraits of sitting individuals. Peeping Hole, a piece devised by Japanese artists Kenichi Okada and Naoaki Fujimoto, projects images on to a screen by tracking the movement of the observer’s eye, an installation that explores questions of privacy and technological control in the modern age.
The installations are part of a broad range of exhibitions and interactive installations running all week at “The Loft”, just across from the Congress Centre in Davos.
According to Sarah Durcan, global operations manager at Science Gallery International, the works being shown in venues across the world are about helping people access their full spectrums of creativity.
“The aim is to engage younger people between the ages of 15 and 25, and to encourage them to pose questions, have conversations about art, technology and creativity.”