‘A New Dawn for US-Irish Relations: Strategies to Unlock Limitless Opportunity‘ was the theme discussed by guest panellists Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Foreign Affairs; Anne Finucane, Vice Chair of Bank of America and Chairman of Bank of America Europe; Chairman Richard Neal, Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee and Member of United States Congress; Congressman Brendan Boyle, Member of United States Congress and Seamus Hand, Managing Partner of KPMG Ireland during a roundtable yesterday afternoon. The roundtable was moderated by Sarah Freeman, Managing Editor of Business & Finance Media Group.
Mike Burke, from Arnall Golden Gregory, a supporter of our Ireland INC US-Ireland Roundtable series, opened proceedings by referencing the potential for increased trade between Ireland and the US. He said, “We’re proud to sponsor this US-Ireland Economic Roundtable because, like Ireland INC, we are big supporters of, and believers in, the potential for increased transatlantic trade, specifically between the US and Ireland.”
The newly launched Ireland INC US 250 Index Special Report, supported by lead partner KPMG and featuring contributions from An Tanaiste Leo Varadkar, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe amongst others, is also available to read.
Key takeaways from the roundtable:
1. Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney spoke about the EU-UK trade Cooperation agreement, saying: “We have to find a way of rebuilding a partnership between the EU and the UK”. He also discussed the very positive implications of the new US administration on the relationship between the US and Ireland, saying it was an extraordinary opportunity for Ireland to give something that to that administration.
Minister Coveney spoke about the plans for a re-emergence of the economy and how it may well be a different type of economy to the one we had before COVID-19.
“Like so many other economies and so many other countries, we have seen an extraordinary twelve month period of restriction and, essentially, of artificial intervention in terms of economic management, which would never normally happen except in war time or a global pandemic. Some parts of the Irish economy have remained very, very strong – the pharma and medtech and biopharma and tech-based economy has actually strengthened significantly, and a lot of foreign direct investment from the United States has actually increased output. But much of our domestic economy – construction, hospitality, hotels, restaurants, pubs – has been interrupted in a very significant way … What we are planning for now is the re-emergence of economic growth post-pandemic, but also perhaps, a different kind of economy to the one we may have experienced before the pandemic.”
2. Anne Finucane, Vice Chair Bank of America, spoke about the fact that Bank of America chose Ireland as their European home since Brexit: “We have seen opportunity within the European market place now and in the months to come”. She spoke about the likelihood of a global economic rebound and what it might look like in the months ahead:
“What we are looking at is a 5 per cent global GDP growth, but is is quite uneven … We are looking at 6 and a half per cent in the US, maybe 3 per cent in Europe, and over 8 per cent in China. The growth in China, and let me just speak to the US, is accelerated well beyond what we thought would be in place at this time last year, and as the minister just indicated, this is not a fiscal crisis, this is a health crisis. And so, the remedy to this is quite different, and in the US, the remarkable stimulus package that this administration just passed with the $1.9 trillion stimulus on top of the stimulus last year has been such a boost not only to the economy, but in terms of unemployment going from nearly 15 per cent to just over 6 per cent, and we think by 2023, we’ll be just north of 3 per cent.”
3. Chairman Richard Neal, Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, gave his predictions for the economic outlook for the rest of 2021 and referenced the work already done by the US government in creating liquidity and demand.
“I think we are looking to a robust second half to the year. The third quarter and the fourth quarter should, as Anne has described, take us north of 6 and a half percent growth … What the federal government did here needs to be recognised. The CARES act saved the American economy. What we did in December with another $940 billion of investment was terribly important, creating simultaneously for people at the lower end of the economic scale liquidity and demand, and the Ways and Means Committee wrote most of those packages.”
He also spoke about his views on The Good Friday Agreement and reiterated his robust support of same. He said, “The Good Friday Agreement was based on the principle that all had to give up something, and they did”.
4. Congressman Brendan Boyle spoke about what the US policy makers can do to encourage more Irish companies to take a leap and expand in the US. He said,
“The relationship between Ireland and the US is a dynamic one and is one of the most important relationships to the US, and I think it is actually growing from where it is now.”
He also discussed his view of the relationship between the US and the UK and, separately, the accomplishments that he would like to see realised in the lifetime of the new US administration:
“One specific thing I want to highlight from the American rescue plan, is one of the most significant accomplishment in US domestic policy since the 1960’s, and that is through this legislation, through what we did with the Child Tax credit, we just cut child poverty by 50% in the USA”.
5. Seamus Hand of KPMG Ireland spoke about growth and risk taking. He said:
“There is good economic activity between both sides of the Atlantic on facility of education and entrepreneurship at that level, because it’s those entrepreneurial companies that will grow into the success of employers.”
He discussed his view on whether the UK will continue to be a major market for Irish business, saying “I think we are in a very good place and I think the pandemic has changed some people’s perspectives on Brexit for the better”.
He referenced some of his clients’ feedback who do business internationally: “So far, people are very positive, particularly around the clarity around purpose behind some of the initiatives.”
Read more about the Ireland INC US-Ireland Economic Roundtable series.