Please note: This piece was originally published in the Ireland INC Index 2022, available to read with compliments here.
The bonds that link Ireland and the US are deeper than just economic, they are the bonds of family. Our two countries are connected historically and culturally in a way that has developed over generations.
As we emerge from the pandemic, we want to strengthen these links further and face huge global challenges, such as climate change, together.
We have all been encouraged by the recent re-engagement with multilateralism by the US. While trade agendas are evolving, and the EU and US may have points of difference, there is a shared understanding of the value of a strong transatlantic relationship. Now more than ever, those countries with similar values need to stick together.
Remarkably, last year was a record year of growth for Ireland’s economy in a number of ways. We had record goods exports of €165.2bn. Ireland’s trade with the United States has more than doubled in the last 10 years. We saw record levels of inward investment – 17,000 net jobs were created by multinationals in Ireland last year, the highest ever created in a single year. We also saw the highest annual increase in jobs created by our indigenous enterprises.
We never take FDI or trade for granted. We have built relationships, established over many years and we will continue to work hard to remain attractive in what is an increasingly competitive global environment in the years to come.
In the coming weeks, I will publish a new Trade and Investment Strategy which will look at what we can do as a country to maintain and enhance our competitiveness, grow Irish-owned business, attract FDI and create a higher standard of living for our citizens.
We are aware our challenges and we are dealing with them head on. These include the need for more investment in infrastructure – housing, energy, water services, roads, ports, airports and broadband. We have committed to a €165billion National Development Plan, an almost €50bn increase in investment in public infrastructure than what was planned 5 years ago. This will bring public investment well above the EU average.
Childcare is another area we are acting on. Budget 2022 continued what will be a major programme of investment to reduce childcare fees for parents, to enable more parents, especially women, participate more fully in the workforce.
Over the course of this Government, we will reform personal taxation so that nobody pays the higher rate of income tax on any income below €40,000 a year, or up to €80,000 a year for a two-income couple. We know that we need to be more competitive with our peers on personal taxation.
Given this depth of connection that exists between Ireland and the United States, my Department and the Irish Embassy in Washington DC have recently mapped ‘Ireland’s economic footprint in the US’. At the National and Regional levels, and in 20 of the States where Ireland’s deepest connections exist, we have produced factsheets that explain the levels of trade, investment, heritage, education, research and innovation that occurs between Ireland and the United States in each region. This will enable Ireland to strengthen existing relationships and develop new ones with future leaders. Growing the ‘Irish footprint’ has been of upmost importance to successive Irish Governments, and this recent project and other initiatives will help ensure that it remains a top priority into the future.