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State’s growing reputation as a reliable and trustworthy partner

Over 50% of US multinational companies in Ireland see State as solid investment location

Chief executive of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland Mark Redmond: We are very, very fortunate in the calibre of the public service in Ireland.

Chief executive of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland Mark Redmond: We are very, very fortunate in the calibre of the public service in Ireland.

 

Ireland’s reputation as a great place to do business continues to grow in American boardrooms, according to American Chamber of Commerce chief executive Mark Redmond. “We recently did a survey of business sentiment among leaders of US multinational companies in Ireland, ” he notes. “And 56 per cent of them said Ireland is a better place to invest in now than it was in 2015. Only 6 per cent disagreed with that. That’s a quite staggering result in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic and the recession it has caused.”

He believes that is further evidence, if any were needed, that across corporate boardrooms in the US, Ireland is seen as reliable and trustworthy partner for investment.

He points to a particular statistic in support of that. “Ireland has just 0.06 per cent of the world’s population yet is the world’s fifth largest producer of products to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. And the firms involved in that haven’t seen any drop in production during the pandemic. In some cases, there has been tripling and quadrupling of production for products like ventilators and so on. That has been seen and remarked upon in corporate America. That performance is testament to the resilience of the 160,000 extraordinary men and women who are working for these companies and have kept them going.”

Performance isn’t measured by productivity alone. “The response by the Irish operations of US multinationals to make their workplaces safe for their employees has been adopted by other operations globally,” Redmond points out. “Ireland is not only seen as a centre of excellence for manufacturing and research but as an exemplar for workplace health and safety standards as well. In that context, I would like to put on record the appreciation of US multinationals in Ireland for the frontline heroes in our health and other care sectors and for the public sector generally. We are very, very fortunate in the calibre of the public service in this country.”

He is keenly aware of the fact that not all companies in Ireland have been doing well during the pandemic. “Sometimes there is a view that there are two economies in Ireland, the domestic one and the multinational economy. The American Chamber and its members recognise how difficult it has been for those retail, hospitality and other businesses in the domestic economy which have been forced to close during the pandemic. The impact on them and the people who work for them has been shocking.”

The continued success of most US multinationals during the pandemic has had a positive effect on the domestic economy, however. “There is extraordinary connectivity between the US multinational sector and the Irish economy,” he points out. “American companies employ 160,000 people directly and the IDA conservatively estimates that those employees support another 100,000 jobs in the Irish economy. US companies also spend €6.3 billion on goods and services in the Irish economy every year. They really want to make sure they play their part in supporting the economy here.”

He anticipates a strong economic rebound in the year ahead. “When we emerge from the pandemic there will be unprecedented growth globally,” he says. “There will be an explosion in consumption as a result of pent up demand. That will cover all sectors including healthcare where delayed treatments and procedures will have to be delivered. There will also be dramatically increased competition for foreign direct investment in the post-Covid world. We will need to have the right policies to continue to develop, attract and retain key talent. We will need really smart investment in research, development and innovation and in the critically important areas of quantum computing, AI, and advanced manufacturing. We will also need to continue to invest in our physical and digital infrastructure and protect air connectivity. We will need a laser like focus on these things if we want to retain our international competitiveness.”

Trade and economic policies

He is optimistic, nevertheless. “Ireland is only English-speaking common law country in the EU, and it is a gateway to the critically important European Single Market. The US has less than one twentieth of the global population and they know their own market won’t cut it for corporate America. They are called multinationals for a reason and they need access to Europe. Ireland is seen as a rules-based democracy, governed by consent and underpinned by certainty in trade and economic policies and that makes it a very attractive place to do business.”

And connections with America remain very strong. “Ireland is ninth biggest investor into America with Irish firms supporting jobs in all 50 states and some 30 million Americans claim Irish heritage. Ireland will continue to be the only country in the world guaranteed an annual meeting with the president in the Oval Office as well as meetings with the vice-president and the Speaker of the House. Real business gets done in all those engagements. We continue to enjoy bipartisan across the aisle support particularly in relation to the Good Friday Agreement.

“Irishness will continue to open all the doors in the corridors of power in the US,” he concludes. “It’s one thing to open the doors, but we must follow through and make sure the deals are sealed. We can’t be complacent about our unique and special position and we must continue to work to make the bridge between our countries stronger.”