IDA plays down Trump’s reference to Ireland in attack on CEOs

Industrial agency says US firms were locating here to have access to European markets

The IDA has played down US President Donald Trump's reference to Ireland in an attack on the chief executives of US multinationals, whom he blames for taking jobs out of the US.

In response to the exodus of several high-profile company bosses from a White House trade panel, in protest at the president's equivocatory response to white supremacist violence, Mr Trump claimed the chief executives of Intel, Merck, and Under Armour were leaving out of embarrassment because they made their products outside the US, in countries like Ireland, which cost the US jobs.

The president's attack on corporate leaders, who have, up until now, been willing to work with his administration on taxes, trade and reducing regulations, came as the White House grappled with the fallout from Mr Trump's comments in the wake of race riots in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend.

The IDA rejected suggestions his comments would damage Ireland’s international standing, noting US companies located here primarily for access to European and global markets.


“They’ve been attracted and operating for 60 years, developing long and enduring commercial ties and there’s no reason to believe they’ll stop now,” executive director of IDA Ireland Mary Buckley said.

“The commercial reality is that in order to operate successfully in a market, you must locate there. Ireland is the perfect place for US companies to locate an office that can sell into one of the biggest markets in the world,” she said.

Her comments were echoed by the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland, which represents US firms here, which said Irish companies were now creating almost as many jobs in the US as the US creates in Ireland.

This is not the first time the US president has singled out Ireland’s relationship with US multinationals.

Since his presidential campaign began Mr Trump has criticised companies including Apple who have, for tax purposes, significant offshore operations in countries such as Ireland.

The president has signalled a major overhaul of the US tax code in a bid to halt companies from moving their assets abroad, albeit this had been held up.

Speaking on Tuesday at a press conference in New York, Mr Trump said: "I want manufacturing to be back into the United States so that American workers can benefit."

Ireland’s corporate tax regime was put under the spotlight last year when the European Commission decided Ireland should collect €13 billion from Apple in back taxes on activities that were routed through business entities registered here.

Peter Hamilton

Peter Hamilton

Peter Hamilton is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in business