US Business in Ireland: Bright future for historic relationship

Reece Smyth

Interview: Joe Dermody

Q: Will the long-standing two-way US-Irish business relationship evolve in any way as a result of new tax reforms in the USA? Perhaps more Irish investment into the USA?

I’m glad that you mentioned “two-way” investment, because it certainly has become a “two-way street” between Ireland and the United States in recent years. Before my arrival here, I had no idea of the scale of the US-Irish investment relationship, which is now valued at over $472 billion.

More than 450 Irish companies are already operating in the United States, employing over 80,000 US workers and accounting for more than $85 billion in investments. Irish companies are increasingly looking to the United States, where they can access a market of 325 million consumers, be close to their customers, nurture R&D links with US universities, and to use their US operations as an export base for other North and South American markets. If you’re an Irish company thinking of investing or expanding into the United States, now is the perfect time.“The United States is open for business!”

The reduction in America’s corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% will aid Irish companies wanting to create a footprint, expand operations, and achieve growth.In addition, we have eliminated burdensome regulations and created an environment that invites investment and rewards production. Irish firms, including Glanbia, CRH, Lotusworks and others, have already taken the leap and they tell us the business climate in the States has never been better.

As the President said at the World Economic Forum in Davos recently: “When the United States grows, so does the world. American prosperity has created countless jobs all around the globe.” So, Irish companies should continue to think America, where you can innovate, create, and build.

Q: Please explain how the SelectUSA program helps to develop the critical role which FDI plays in the US economy?

Our Embassy recently opened a SelectUSA office, one of only 12 in the world. This office focuses exclusively on assisting Irish firms of all sizes to succeed in the US marketplace and can make valuable contacts with state and local governments to navigate the US regulatory system. Events such as the SelectUSA Investment Summit, international road shows, trade fair pavilions, and seminars are convenient and cost-effective ways for business investors to meet state, regional, and local economic development representatives from across the United States under one roof. SelectUSA can also connect businesses with federal resource networks.

So if you’re thinking of investing, please get in touch.

Q: How does Irish society and culture match up to the expectations you had before coming here?

I have travelled the length and breadth of this country on an extensive range of public, business, and cultural visits to Irish cities, towns, and villages.

I have many cherished memories from the last year. Whether it was learning Irish in the Gaeltacht region of Galway; attending the National Ploughing Championships; watching the hurling and Gaelic football championships at Croke Park; sampling the culinary delights of the many wonderful restaurants around the country; or having a pint, the welcome was always heartwarming. At each county and at each stop, the hospitality extended to me and my staff underscores the special and close relationship between our two countries.

Q: Are you surprised to see just how quickly the two-way tourism links between Ireland and the US have bounced back in recent years?

Travel is and will always remain a cornerstone of the incredibly strong US-Irish relationship. The US Embassy facilitates the travel of thousands of Irish who visit the United States every year. The number of people travelling back and forth between Ireland and the United States is significant, and growing. In fact, we issued more visas last year than in 2016. Many of those people are travelling to visit families and friends, many more are doing business, and quite a few are simply coming to enjoy Ireland’s charms. I know in America, we love Irish visitors. I recently attended the Holiday World Travel Show in the RDS in Dublin.

I toured the Visit USA Committee’s USA Pavilion which showcased 40 different US states and destinations. The Irish market for US travel and tourism services remains strong, recording an increase of 4.9 percent in the first six months of 2017. With increased airline capacity, and strong forward bookings, the market is expected to record continued growth through 2018.

Ireland is only one of six countries worldwide that have US Customs and Border Protection Preclearance facilities in Shannon and Dublin. In addition to enhancing security, Preclearance has the potential to increase growth opportunities for airports and air carriers in the United States and Ireland, while improving the passenger experience.

Q: Are you looking forward to the St Patrick’s Day celebrations?

I can’t wait. Last year, I witnessed first-hand the incredible welcome extended to Ireland from the White House and Congress as Washington rolled out the red carpet for former Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the St. Patrick’s Day meetings. Again this year I look forward to an equally friendly and productive meeting between President Trump and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

We are working closely with the Irish Government, as well as Irish and American citizens, on a broad range of issues, including political, economic, security, press, culture, tourism, and trade. One thing I know for certain is that America’s relationship with Ireland will continue to thrive because the ties that already exist are so deeply-rooted, strong, and growing every year.

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