Arthur Cox managing partner Brian O'Gorman believes Ireland's traditional strengths continue to play a key role in the country's attractiveness for US investment. "I can't really add much to what has become a well-trodden path at this stage," he says. "Tax is part of it of course. There is our geographic position; the links into Ireland are very important and the infrastructure there has improved massively over the years. Our skilled and flexible workforce is also very important and the mobility of the workforce is another positive."
The legal system also comes into play. “It may not come very high up many people’s lists but the legal environment is also a factor. Our common law legal system is very similar to those of the US and the UK and US companies locating here are very familiar with it.”
He believes cost-competitiveness is an issue which needs to be dealt with. “Between 2004 and 2008 we allowed our costs to get out of control and we lost much or our competitiveness as a result,” he says.
“I know what followed was a terrible recession but at least it helped get our costs back on track. International FDI is a highly competitive business and when I hear talk of national wage agreements and things like that I fear for the future. To my mind, that is the single biggest threat to our continued success in attracting FDI.”
The other issue that concerns him is the regulation of businesses in the broad financial services sector. “We are getting a lot of feedback from clients who are saying the environment in Ireland compares unfavourably with our international competitors when it comes to dealings with regulators. This is something which should be examined as we don’t want a negative perception to take hold in this vital area for FDI.”