Trump, tax plans and Ireland

 

Sir, – Cliff Taylor (“Trump’s tax package is bad news for Ireland”, Opinion and Analysis, February 11th) rightly points out that President Trump’s proposals to curb foreign direct investment (FDI) are potentially toxic for Ireland. The US president’s hostility to foreign trade and globalisation risks creating a world of autarkies such as that experienced after the crash and economic depression of 1929, when countries looked inward, considering only their own interests, and many in the US and elsewhere starved as a result.

Ireland would not do well in such a situation. Our dependence on US investment in particular and our failure to create any volume of Irish technology and internationally competent enterprises leaves us in a very vulnerable situation. If we exclude food and agriculture, over 90 per cent of our exports are the output of foreign-owned enterprises. As part of their business and fiscal arrangements, several billion euro are transferred annually to affiliates in Europe by these companies in the form of management fees, license fees, royalties and intellectual property rights. Think double-Irish and Dutch sandwich and suchlike.

Three general observations can be made. First, it should be possible to reduce or tax these payments to European affiliates and thus increase our corporation tax revenue, which could be used for health and housing. Second, don’t say we have not had any notice about US intentions in his regard. Well before Mr Trump’s arrival, President Obama’s economic adviser, Dr Robert Shapiro, addressed a seminar in UCD in 2008, and pointed out that Ireland needs to wean itself off FDI, which is an interim strategy and not an endgame. “The next stage is not FDI but a series of policies that actively promote spill overs from FDI corporations to Irish indigenous firms”, he said. Third, given that 70 per cent of jobs in modern economies are in the services sectors, a policy to encourage and support jobs in services needs to be given priority by the Government. – Yours, etc,

COLUM MacDONNELL,

Glenageary,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – Shane O’Curry of the European Network Against Racism Ireland accuses (February 13th) the Trump administration of being in breach of people’s rights under the UN’s 1948 Universal Declaration of Human rights.

However, if these “rights” are universal or binding, why then did 79 per cent of UN member states vote Saudi Arabia onto the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) last year? Membership of the UNHRC now gives Saudi Arabia the right, for example, to vote on, influence and oversee resolutions, etc, on women’s rights. Similarly, in 1990, the 45 member states of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference were able to remain members of the UN despite declaring all human rights to be subject to Sharia law.

The occupant of the White House , unlike the legions of human rights NGOs, lives in the real world. – Yours, etc,

KARL MARTIN,

Bayside,

Dublin 13.