Ireland and the US: A bond worthy of celebration

Ireland and the US: A bond worthy of celebration
Martin Shanahan, CEO IDA Ireland; Tim Cook, CEO Apple; An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar; and Frank Ryan, chairman, IDA Ireland, at the presentation in January in the National Concert Hall, Dublin, of IDA Ireland’s inaugural ‘Special Recognition Award’ recognising Apple’s contribution to Ireland. Picture: Iain White/Fennells

Last month Apple was honoured by IDA Ireland for its contribution to Ireland as they celebrate 40 years here.

The CEO of Apple, Tim Cook described Ireland as Apple’s “second home” and called out Ireland’s commitment to “openness, innovation and cooperation” as the reasons why Ireland will be part of the next generation of world-changing ideas.

There are countless examples of companies that demonstrate longevity and our well-earned reputation as a small country with a global impact.

It is not by chance that Ireland can boast being home to the top five global software companies, the top ten Pharmaceutical companies and many of the world’s most successful financial services companies.

Our starting point for 2020 and this decade is strong, but we must not be complacent.

There are more than 700 Irish companies exporting to the US, and there are 106,000 people employed by Irish affiliated entities across 50 US States and conservative estimates suggest that the economic spill-over from US companies leads to a further 128,000 jobs in the broader economy.

Altogether, this accounts for around 20% of all employment in Ireland, and a US$446 billion total investment which is almost 70% of all foreign direct investment coming into the country.

The connections between indigenous companies and the multinational sector in Ireland should never be understated — it is of substantial strategic importance to all concerned.

On the one hand, it enables many Irish companies to learn, develop and grow, and on the other hand, a robust supporting eco-system for US FDI elevates Ireland as a home for new investments.

The recent IDA results show that over fifty thousand FDI jobs were created outside of Dublin over the past five years, leading to over thirty thousand additional direct jobs.

Ireland and the US: A bond worthy of celebration

Regional balanced development is not just critical for our country, it is also essential for our offering.

Viable options for potential inward investment outside the large urban cities help Ireland Inc.

While the progress has been impressive, AmCham remains alert to the factors that can often constrain regional development such as the pace of delivery of critical infrastructural projects, for example, the M8/N25 Dunkettle Interchange or the N20 Cork to Limerick Road.

Notwithstanding this, strong sector clustering and an excellent eco-system to match plays well on the international stage.

For example, Cork’s reputation for Pharmaceuticals, Advanced Manufacturing and Cyber Security is well understood by those looking at Ireland for their next growth opportunity.

The impact of US companies is never far away for most communities. Each year the employees of US companies donate 600,000 work-supported volunteer hours to 7,300 community projects.

US companies take pride in the strong linkages formed with the communities they operate in. When it comes to tackling the issues of our time, such as carbon neutrality, these linkages will serve an even greater purpose.

The collective approach required by businesses, civil society and communities is critical if we are to succeed.

When we reflect on the decade that has just passed, the US-Ireland Business relationship has changed somewhat.

The most significant change has been the two-way nature of it. Over the last decade, Irish companies in the US have gone from strength to strength and the two-way US-Irish relationship is at an all-time high.

Ireland and the US: A bond worthy of celebration

There are more than 700 Irish companies exporting to the US, and there are 106,000 people employed by Irish affiliated entities across 50 US States.

This trend looks set to continue and develop.

We also see that Irish investment in the US is no longer confined to the traditional investment hotspots of the East and West Coast but in many other places such as the US Mid-West.

In Ireland, US FDI is remarkably resilient. That can be largely attributed to our ability to anticipate and adapt to change.

In the context of changes ahead in 2020, we must find the new ideas that will help us to adapt and stay resilient.

The opportunity for greater inward investment is strong. But we have to solve the challenges slowing us down.

Challenges like talent attraction and retention issues, like high personal taxation costs, accommodation, transport infrastructure and access to amenities and services like childcare.

The good news is that US companies and their leadership teams are entirely in tune to what is happening on the ground.

These include the future of work, the advantages of digital transformation, inclusive talent strategies, and sustainability.

In 2020 and into this decade, I believe there is a real opportunity for Ireland to be a shining example in these areas.

Carin Bryans is the President of the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland.

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