IDA Headquarters, Wednesday 8 July 2020
Frank, Martin, staff of the IDA, members of the media. Good morning!
The last time I was here was in October. I was here to perform the official opening of your new HQ. It was a wonderful evening – full of promise and optimism.
For good reason: the economic outlook was very positive. Unemployment was at record lows. Investment flows at all-time highs.
Now, just seven months later, we are living in another country and a world transformed.
I don’t think any of us could have foreseen the enormous economic upheaval that Covid 19 would inflict on virtually every part of our society and our economy.
Our country has been through a period without precedent in the history of our State.
Lives were lost, businesses were closed, and it took a terrible toll on our families, our communities and our country. And, it’s not over yet.
However, despite the considerable challenges we still face, confidence is slowly coming back.
Many businesses have reopened and hope is returning.
It has been a real privilege to lead our country through the worst of the public health crisis that was caused by Covid 19.
My new job as Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, is to lead our country through the economic crisis that has been caused by the pandemic to get our businesses open and our people back to work.
To help our country recover, repair the damage that has been done, and restore confidence and prosperity.
My focus since I took up my new role has been on the July Jobs Stimulus Package.
The Stimulus will be radical and far-reaching.
It will be of scale to meet the challenge.
It has to be!
We must take the right decisions now to set us on the right course for the next five years and beyond.
The Government knows we have no time to waste – and there is a huge amount of work already underway.
While final decisions have not yet been made, we are considering actions like:
- An improved restart grant to help businesses that are reopening,
- Reductions in business taxes and commercial rates
- An enhanced Restart Grant
- Access to low cost loans
- Target life sciences investment
- Export guarantees
- Extending the TWSS
The July package will save jobs, create new ones, and get our people back to work.
It will be followed in October by the National Economic Plan. Published on the same day as the Budget. It will chart out our longer term, jobs led recovery.
I expect the Economic Plan will include a major reskilling programme, policies to promote balanced regional development and it will emphasise the importance of attracting and sustaining Foreign Direct Investment.
We will exploit the rise of remote working and the investment in the National Broadband Plan to exploit this potential.
Chairman, throughout the Covid 19 crisis, the IDA’s extensive client base has shown real grit and resilience in its response to the economic shock caused by the pandemic.
Indeed, IDA backed firms based here have been to the fore in helping with the Covid 19 emergency. I saw this first hand as Taoiseach.
Medtronic in Galway increased the production of ventilators to meet worldwide demand for the life saving devices, from 200 ventilators a week in April to more than 1,000 a week by the end of June. An extraordinary achievement.
Mallinckrodt in Blanchardstown and Intel are among the many firms who have donated tens of thousands of items Personal Protective Equipment to frontline staff.
Your role in helping to source reagents for our laboratories made a real difference.
Today, as we mark the IDA’s mid-year results, we recognise the important role that the Agency has already played – and will continue to play – in helping our country and our economy to bounce back.
The statistics from the first half of this year are a testament to the hard-work and commitment of the team here.
- 132 new investments
- More than 60 outside Dublin
- 10,000 new, good jobs created.
Notwithstanding the record growth achieved in recent years, we are under no illusions that the time ahead will prove more challenging.
The UN Conference on Trade and Development estimates that global investment flows may fall by 40% in 2020 and 2021.
The global market for FDI will become even more competitive, with the same number of countries competing for a much smaller pie.
We will have to fight, harder than ever before, for new investment projects and the jobs that go with them.
Chairman, I look forward, as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, to working with the Agency to develop its own new strategy, which will set out how Ireland, can continue to attract FDI, how to ensure investment flows can grow in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way.
How all parts of Ireland can benefit from FDI.
How we make sure that we catch the next wave which will be digital and carbon neutral.
Before I conclude, it would be remiss of me not to mention Brexit.
It’s an issue that may have slipped down the headlines a little in recent times – but the threat posed by Brexit certainly hasn’t gone away.
As you know discussions between the EU and the UK resumed in Brussels at the end of June – but as Michel Barnier has said, there are serious divergences between the two sides.
I know that you are determined to help clients to adapt to the future EU-UK relationship, whatever that may be, but also on securing more Brexit-related investment for Ireland.
You’ve had considerable success already.
I know that’ll continue.
I began my remarks today recalling how positive the outlook was in October 2019, when I was here last.
Despite everything that has befallen us since, I believe we still have grounds to be optimistic. We have faced many challenges in the past, and Ireland always bounces back.
Ireland continues to have so much to offer to overseas investors.
1 A talented and flexible work-force.
2 A track record as a successful home to global businesses.
3 A hard-won reputation as a pro-enterprise jurisdiction.
4 A country secure in knowing that it belongs at the heart of the EU, the single market and eurozone.
5 A country committed to free trade and multilateralism.
And, most of all, in the IDA, we have a special team who make a compelling case – from Mountain View to Mumbai – as to why overseas firms should continue to invest here.