Monday 19 February 2018

Brexit will bring US multinationals to Ireland - Ambassador Kevin O Malley

Kevin O’Malley, outgoing US Ambassador to Ireland, at his residence in Phoenix Park. Photo: Mark Condren
Kevin O’Malley, outgoing US Ambassador to Ireland, at his residence in Phoenix Park. Photo: Mark Condren
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Outgoing US Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O'Malley believes Britain's decision to leave the EU will result in more American multinational companies investing here.

Mr O'Malley said Ireland would be the last English speaking country in the EU once Brexit negotiations were finalised, and this would make the country even more attractive to US businesses.

Speaking to the Irish Independent in his Phoenix Park residence in Dublin, the Ambassador claimed US firms did not move to Ireland for tax avoidance purposes but rather to take advantage of our well-educated workforce and open business culture.

"Americans like dealing with the Irish and I think the Irish like to deal with the Americans and that's the reason this works," Mr O'Malley said.

In a clear swipe at president-elect Donald Trump, the Ambassador said: "That's not dependent on any one person or any one administration - that's based upon a couple of centuries of history and a couple of centuries of shared DNA."

Mr O'Malley said there would be challenges for Ireland once Britain left the EU but insisted Brexit would present the Government with mostly positive opportunities.

Central to these opportunities was the chance to lure companies from the US and other countries by marketing Ireland as the last English speaking access point to the EU.

He described Ireland as the "jumping-off point" for countries seeking to move into the European market.

Mr O'Malley said technological advancements and the changing face of globalisation meant the tax polices in most countries had become "antiquated" and needed to be updated.

However, he said Mr Trump's plan to drastically cut US corporation tax to lure multinationals back to the US was unlikely to have a knock-on effect for Irish-based companies.

He also noted that Irish companies had created more jobs in the US than American firms had made in Ireland.

"American corporations have done very well in Ireland.

"There is no reason to think they are not going to continue to do well in Ireland," he said.

"In Ireland, US multinationals provide employment for 140,000 people.

"Irish companies in the United States provide more jobs so America is a net winner on this issue."

He said foreign direct investment by US companies in Ireland had created "high quality jobs that provide a good salary" which in turn also "provides a lot of self-respect" for workers.

"I have visited many of the American multinationals here and the workers understand they are producing world-class products and that adds to the swagger of the step of the worker," he said.

Mr O'Malley said the EU's €13bn unpaid tax ruling against tech giant Apple led to "uncertainty" among US firms considering investing in Ireland but insisted the country's image was not damaged by the controversy in America.

"I think most Americans who have studied the issue believe the companies are not here for tax avoidance," he said.

"They believe they are here because they see it as a way to grow the market into the EU and we can rely on a clear tax code. We can rely on the integrity and dedication and education of the Irish worker.

"We can rely on that we don't have to translate words or money because we speak the same language."

Separately, Mr O'Malley said he hoped Mr Trump would continue the US tradition of playing a central role in the peace process in Northern Ireland.

"It is a place that we have historically been able to do some good with, and I would like to think we would continue to be beneficial to the parties in the North if we can help them to get through these crises they have," he said.

Irish Independent

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