Smurfit chief backs slow, sustainable resurgence
Published 12/01/2010 | 05:00
THE Celtic Tiger may not roar again, but Europe could be at the beginning of a "slow, sustainable recovery", Smurfit Kappa boss Gary McCann has said.
"I don't know", whether the Celtic Tiger will roar again, Mr McCann told the 'Financial Times' in an interview. "The problem for companies and countries alike is uncertainty in the minds of the consumers. Unless the companies in Ireland Inc can give confidence to the people engaging with them, there is no way forward."
The Smurfit Kappa boss said the European Central Bank seemed happy with a strong euro against the dollar and sterling and seemed intent on creating a slow but sustainable recovery, which was what was needed.
Irish people had "overpaid ourselves, individually, collectively and almost unanimously", he added. That had in turn eroded a strong competitive position.
"But we have started to restore that competitiveness with serious intent," he said.
The paper maker, whose company ran into problems with Venezuela's socialist President Hugo Chavez last March after he seized a eucalyptus plantation from the company over alleged environmental problems, said last month's environment summit in Copenhagen may have sought change that was too radical.
"I think it was educational and interesting for Europe to go in as leader and come out not necessarily as leader. I'm not sure that leadership and saving the world -- which is necessary and we all subscribe to it -- were going to be in the best interests of business in Europe, with the competitiveness that Europe has versus some of the other regions," Mr McCann said.
"So from a business perspective, it is vital that we progress at a pace that business in Europe can stay alive in."