IDA is­sues warn­ing over com­pet­i­tive­ness

Head of State body says ac­tion needed on hous­ing, broad­band and in­fras­truc­ture

The Irish Times - Business - - Business This Week | News - CHAR­LIE TAY­LOR

The head of IDA Ire­land has warned of the need for steps to be taken to safe­guard the coun­try’s com­pet­i­tive­ness.

Ap­pear­ing be­fore the Com­mit­tee of Pub­lic Ac­counts yes­ter­day, the agency’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, Martin Shana­han, said com­pe­ti­tion from other coun­tries and cities for for­eign in­vest­ment has never been as strong as it is now. He added that al­though the State is still win­ning busi­ness, it can­not af­ford to rest on its lau­rels.

Mr Shana­han said the State con­tin­ued “to punch above its weight” when it comes to at­tract­ing for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment (FDI). How­ever, he said that al­though the Repub­lic’s “value propo­si­tion” re­mains valid, there is a need to do more to en­sure it is can com­pete with other coun­tries.

“The IDA is mak­ing steady progress on win­ning in­vest­ments but we can­not be com­pla­cent,” said Mr Shana­han. “These in­vest­ments will not fall into our laps. They will have to be won against stiff in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion.”

He out­lined a num­ber of ar­eas where progress is needed, in­clud­ing re­solv­ing the hous­ing cri­sis, in­vest­ing more in in­fras­truc­ture and im­prov­ing broad­band avail­abil­ity na­tion­wide.

“In­creas­ing lev­els of in­dus­trial un­rest and un­cer­tainty in the plan­ning process also im­pact on Ire­land’s in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion for sta­bil­ity and con­sis­tency. Vig­i­lance in re­la­tion to pub­lic fi­nances is needed to pro­tect the hard won gains al­ready made, as well as con­tin­u­ing to ad­dress the en­ter­prise cost base, and to deepen and broaden pro­duc­tiv­ity growth,” he said.

“A con­tin­u­a­tion of pro-en­ter­prise poli­cies is a pre-req­ui­site to con­tinue to win these in­vest­ments,” Mr Shana­han added.

Brexit chal­lenges

Turn­ing to Brexit, Mr Shana­han said it had led to in­creased in­ter­est in in­vest­ing in Ire­land, as seen by an­nounce­ments from fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions such as JP Mor­gan, Bar­clays and Bank of Amer­ica. He said there were also op­por­tu­ni­ties for newly mo­bile in­vest­ment from com­pa­nies cur­rently res­i­dent in the UK. He added how­ever, that Brexit would also be likely to bring some ad­verse im­pact and chal­lenges.

The num­ber of new in­vest­ments se­cured by IDA Ire­land rose from 213 in 2015 to 244 last year, he said. IDA client com­pa­nies em­ployed 199,877 peo­ple at the end of 2016, the high­est level in the his­tory of the State.

Client com­pa­nies cre­ated just un­der 19,000 new roles last year, with ev­ery re­gion of the State post­ing net gains in jobs.

Martin Shana­han: Brexit has led to in­creased in­ter­est in in­vest­ing here

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