Chamber President celebrates US-Ireland business relationship

  • Release Date: 02/03/2017
Thursday, March 2, 2017.  Addressing the members of the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland at the annual President’s Lunch at the Intercontinental Hotel, Ballsbridge, on Thursday, 2nd March, James O’Connor, President of the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland and Managing Director of Microsoft EMEA Operations Centre, emphasised the strength of the two-way Ireland US business relationship, while also underscoring the challenges ahead for Ireland, if the country is to maintain its status as one of the top locations in the world for US foreign direct investment. The event was sponsored by Barclay’s Bank Ireland.   
“The scale of US investment in Ireland now stands at over 700 companies, operating global businesses from here,” said James O’Connor, “. The collective US investment in Ireland now stands at an all-time high of $343 billion.  It is fair to say that Ireland has been transformed by US investment, and that US investment has been transformed in Ireland.”
“And that investment has been good for the United States too,” said James O’Connor, “Over 200 Irish companies have created jobs in over 2,600 locations across all 50 States in the US, generating over $90bn in US sales annually.
In total over 340,000 jobs have been created on both sides of the Atlantic”
Speaking about the challenging environment that lies ahead, Mr. O’Connor emphasised the need for Ireland to ‘stay on top of its game’, saying “2017 is likely to be a year of both challenge and opportunity for the US-Ireland relationship.  President Trump’s Administration is signalling changes to how the US trades with the world. The full implications of the changes are not yet clear.  But what is clear is that Ireland needs to be sharp, innovative, proactive and swift in how it responds.  The American Chamber will maintain a laser-like focus on the implications of these changes and will strongly push the message that investing in Ireland has been good for US business and it has been good for the United States of America.  Not only have Irish companies created almost as many jobs in the US as US companies have created here, but we constantly hear the US leaders of our member companies state that their Irish operations are centrally important to their global growth and innovation strategies.”
Speaking about Brexit, Mr. O’Connor said, “While we don’t yet know the final shape that Brexit will take, we can anticipate that it will present opportunities as well as issues for Ireland.   Some businesses will be seeking a new EU base in the wake of the UK’s exit from the Union, and I believe there are other opportunities Ireland can challenge for too, for example, by extending our biopharma cluster and developing Ireland as the centre of excellence in the data & digital economy. We have and will continue to strongly represent our members’ views to Government., and we have been reassured by the importance the Irish Government is placing on this defining issue for Ireland.”
In emphasising the need for Ireland to stay on top of its game, James O’Connor outlined some of the priority areas for the Chamber in the year ahead.  “We need to compete more intensely than ever before to retain our position at the top of the global league table for inward investment. We will continue to advocate for progress in the areas that we must continue to get right if Ireland is compete at the highest level as a great place to live and work and attract investment. These include:
  • An education system that equips boys and girls equally to avail of the opportunities that flow from digital transformation in a multi-lingual global community
  • Enhanced physical and digital infrastructure – including the physical infrastructure deficit in the north-west and the capacity issues in our cities
  • A personal tax regime that rewards productivity
  • Sufficient choice of quality rented residential accommodation to meet the needs of a changing demographic
  • Sufficient choice of schools and pathways to education and training attainment
  • Broadband access
“Currently, we compete strongly within the Eurozone, we are first in the world in terms of workforce flexibility, and we are ranked 7th out of 128 countries in the 2016 Global Innovation Index,” said James O’Connor.  “These are strong markers for our success, but we must not be complacent when we know the competition worldwide for FDI is relentless and the global trading environment is changing dramatically. Ireland’s unique position; at the very centre of the EU-US relationship; soon to be the only English-speaking member of the EU; perfectly positioned in the global time-zone spectrum; with a highly diverse multinational workforce presents us with a game-changing set of opportunities.”
“We know that the products and services created in Ireland by our member companies are enhancing lives all around the world on a daily basis,” continued James O’Connor, “In the medical field alone, one quarter of all diabetes patients on the planet rely on products made in Ireland. One third of all contact lenses are made here.  Our Chamber represents companies large and small. Our member companies have also contributed to a more inclusive and progressive Ireland. We also care passionately about our communities. It is a huge tribute to all of the companies represented here today that every year their employees donate over 600,000 volunteer hours to over 7,000 community projects across Ireland, through the diverse range of social, cultural, educational and environmental programmes that have become central to our members in Ireland.”
The Chamber’s annual ‘US-Ireland Business 2017’ report was launched at the lunch and the shortlisted candidates for the US-Ireland Research Innovation Awards held in association with the Royal Irish Academy were announced.
For further information contact:
Conor Neylan, Communications Manager
American Chamber of Commerce Ireland
Tel: +353 1 661 6635 / +353 87 754 2475