Ambassador's warning on corporate tax
AMERICAN ambassador Dan Rooney has warned that if Ireland raises its corporate tax, this will force US companies to rethink their decision to locate here.
Mr Rooney stressed the importance of Ireland maintaining its 12.5pc corporate tax rate during his last open forum, held in Co Westmeath yesterday.
He made the remarks at his 26th 'Conversation with the Ambassador' in Mullingar Arts Centre.
Mr Rooney has been touring the country since President Barack Obama appointed him as US ambassador in 2009.
His comments follow France and Germany's call for EU member states to make "progress on tax co-ordination". The two countries want EU members to commit to discussing a common corporate tax base before the end of 2012.
Mr Rooney indicated that a standard corporate tax base across the EU would put Ireland at a disadvantage.
"If the corporate tax is raised, then these (American) companies will look at the situation and say, 'Well it is too high for us,'" he said.
The ambassador said Ireland needed to continue with its current rate of corporate tax and realise that we are "in competition with other economies".
He particularly named Poland, which is already attracting considerable US investment.
However, Mr Rooney also said it was clear that the Irish Government was aware of the danger of going down this road and was actively "fighting" against it.
Mr Rooney also said the US Government was "very interested" in what was happening but from its point of view "everybody is to pay their taxes".
Ireland remained an attractive place to do business, he added, because our population were English speakers with a "good attitude", who were "friendly and intelligent" and who "do the job".
On Bank of America's decision to pull out of MBNA's Carrick-on-Shannon facility in Co Leitrim, where 750 jobs are at risk, Mr Rooney said he had visited the premises and he praised the calibre of staff there.
"It is unfortunate," he added.
During the session, Mr Rooney said he had noticed three major improvements in the country since he first flew in to Shannon airport in the 1970s -- the roads, mobile phone infrastructure and the food.
"You have great chefs here now," he quipped.