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Ireland: the Gateway to Europe

Ireland: the Gateway to Europe
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney TD was one of a number of Government officials interviewed as part of Matheson’s Beyond Brexit Series. Pictured with Matheson Managing Partner Michael Jackson and Partner Grainne Callanan

Despite the ongoing uncertainty around a range of global issues, Ireland should face the coming year with a high degree of confidence.

While recently there have been warnings related to a disorderly Brexit, with the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohue providing guidance on the potential impact on growth and employment, Ireland has worked diligently to move on from the downturn, progress that should continue in to the future.

Our economy is growing, inward investment remains strong and – most importantly – Ireland offers a stable and dependable environment for business.

Obviously the main, and most immediate, source of uncertainty is the ongoing Brexit saga. It’s worth reminding ourselves that it is now over a year since the terms of the UK’s withdrawal were agreed, terms which largely remain unchanged.

The overall process, however, has been marked by uncertainty in the UK with regard to the sort of exit deal it wants and it remains to be seen if the ongoing engagement between the UK and the EU results in any progress in the short term.

We share the hope of all in the business community that, in the coming weeks, a way will be found to avoid a chaotic “no deal” outcome that would create such uncertainty for businesses in Ireland, the UK and across Europe.

While Brexit in general and the possibility of a ‘no-deal’ scenario would be challenging for the Irish economy, it is important to not lose sight of Ireland’s relevance on the international stage. For example, the country was ranked 14th globally as part of the 2019 annual Bloomberg Innovation Index, ahead of major economies such as China, the UK, Australia and Canada.

It is worth noting that Ireland ranked in first place globally in the areas of manufacturing capabilities and productivity. These indicators of potential can also be considered alongside Brexit related factors, such as the fact that Ireland will be the only English speaking country in the Union once the UK departs, further enhancing our attractiveness as a place to do business and as a gateway to Europe.

Throughout 2018, Matheson continued to provide expert advice on the Brexit process. The firm organised a series of events bringing together EU commissioners, government ministers and business leaders to tease out the complex issues involved.

Furthermore, as an international law firm with offices in New York, San Francisco and Palo Alto, we facilitate those US companies looking to do business in Europe, and our announcement of a new office in Cork in 2018 further enhances our FDI offering here in Ireland.

We will continue to be our clients’ trusted source of quality analysis on Brexit as the process unfolds in the coming months and beyond.

Amid the uncertainty caused by Brexit, international tax reform and other global crises, Ireland remains the location of choice for very many U.S. companies seeking to invest in Europe. They recognise this country’s firm, long-term commitment to the European Union as well as factors such as our skilled workforce, connectivity and positive business environment.

The recently published IDA Ireland results for 2018 underline this point. A record number of people – almost 230,000 – are now employed directly by 1,400 FDI companies. 58% of these jobs are located outside Dublin with notable increases in the Midlands, the South-East and West of the country in recent years.

Multi-national companies are an intrinsic part of Ireland’s economy. Many of them have been here for decades. They provide real jobs and positively impact communities with spillover investment directly into the Irish economy.

For example, FDI expenditure on Irish materials and services amounts to €7.5bn, an annual payroll spend of €11.7bn and capital investment of €5.7bn on new buildings and machinery and equipment.

Catherine O'Meara, Partner, Matheson.
Catherine O'Meara, Partner, Matheson.

As part of Matheson’s ongoing commitment to supporting FDI companies, we are delighted to partner with the American Chamber of Commerce in sponsoring the Chamber’s Transatlantic Conference 2019, which will be held in March.

This is an important event in the calendar as it is an opportunity to reflect on current issues and challenges, and the broader business environment that will impact the United States and Ireland, as well as future opportunities in Europe and further afield.

The United States and Ireland share a significant history and relationship, one that has grown as the two countries have matured.

That relationship is now based on mutual respect and mutual benefit. This is underlined by the fact that the growing number of Irish companies that operate internationally now employ in excess of 100,000 people right across the United States.

While today there may be challenges on the horizon, it is a hugely positive and mutually beneficial relationship. As we enter a new era of global relations, now is the time to explore how this relationship can be strengthened to the benefit of future generations.

Catherine O’Meara, Partner, Matheson

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