The pipeline of additional multinational investment and job creation, for the first three months of this year, is relatively strong, said IDA chief Martin Shanahan yesterday.
Speaking on the back of a strong set of job figures for 2015, Mr Shanahan said the agency is on track following the first year of its latest five-year strategy, which aims to deliver 80,000 jobs and 900 investments by 2020.
“There has been a very strong pipeline of new investments over the past 18 months and we can see [from the 2015] figures that multinationals are adding headcount at a high rate, which suggests a strong uplift in activity.
“Many of the projects won in 2015 were capital intensive and provided strong additional benefits beyond the jobs themselves,” he said.
He added that one year into the new strategy, the IDA is “delighted” with the performance levels and the outlook for 2016 is positive.
Regarding the sustainability of recent positive results, Mr Shanahan said “we are certainly trying for a repeat performance”.
Among the big-name investors here last year were Facebook, Apple, Alexion Pharmaceuticals (the latter two investing a combined €1.3bn), Zimmer and Northern Trust.
Mr Shanahan said a big attraction has been Ireland’s strong talent pool and its competitive, stable and transparent corporate tax environment.
However, he also said there remains a need for consistent infrastructure spend and new office supply, while the next government must lower personal tax levels in order to remain attractive to employers and employees alike.
“Ireland needs to keep its tax offering under review, including personal taxation rates, to ensure we remain competitive in the international environment,” he said.
Mr Shanahan said the plans for the first quarter of the year comprises a mix of investments and expansions by existing client firms, but that continuing to win fresh investment will be key for continued success.
Asked about the consequences of a British withdrawal from the EU, he said Ireland should want the UK to remain a member and that any potential foreign direct investment dividend, should it leave, would be offset by negative trade effects.
The ESRI recently said a British exit could reduce bilateral trade flows between Ireland and Britain by at least 20% over the long-term; while the Institute of International and Economic Affairs said a UK exit from the EU could wipe €6bn off the annual value of Irish exports.
“Foreign investment in Ireland has clearly had a very strong out-turn in 2015 and focus will, understandably, be on can this strong performance be sustained further.
"We believe once Ireland concentrates on maintaining its competitiveness ... building on [these] strong numbers is possible,” said Mr Shanahan.
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