TAOISEACH Brian Cowen does not believe Ireland is threatened by a dreaded double dip recession and he said the agricultural industry can help drive an economic recovery.
Mr Cowen said the figures released by the Central Statistics Office, which showed the economy shrunk between April and July, were disappointing.
But he said there was still a lot of grounds for optimism and the Government’s target was to remain stable in 2010.
“I don’t accept that analysis [of a double dip recession] based on this second quarterly report.
“You have to look at the full year to get the best possible estimate of how things will go,” he said.
Mr Cowen said there were good indicators in the continued growth in exports and, according to information he received from Enterprise Ireland, 70% of the orders that were lost last year have been regained in 2010.
Mr Cowen said one of the big problems facing the economy was the reluctance of people to spend money and he was encouraging those who had it to go out and spend it.
“Consumption is still not what I would like to see it… We need to continue to encourage people, those how have disposable income and savings, to spend in the domestic economy.”
Mr Cowen was speaking at the National Ploughing Championships in Athy, Co Kildare, where he spent almost three hours touring the stalls, visiting the competition grounds and briefing the media.
The Taoiseach described the welcome he received as “courteous and civil.”
In reality, it was better than that. And having dodged angry anti-Lisbon protests at last year’s event, he was relaxed in Athy yesterday.
While a small number of people hurled insults, they were mostly out of his earshot and out of sync with the rest of the reception.
Mr Cowen visited all the main farm organisations’s stands at the event.
He said all sectors of the indigenous food industry needed to pool their resources to relaunch the Irish brand internationally and improve the competitiveness of the agricultural sector.
He denied that the latest farming strategy, Food Harvest 2020, was too grand to be achieved and prone to dispute.
“It is an ambitious plan. But I think it is realisable and I think obviously we have to work on a whole number of fronts in terms of developing the industry itself,” the Taoiseach said.
Mr Cowen also played down suggestions that the Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Environment were at odds over the implementation of the 2020 plan.
He said the development of agriculture needed to be done in a sustainable fashion and this would insure the various interests were kept onside.
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