Tuesday 23 January 2018

Taoiseach admits new Brexit trade plan is rehash of old targets

Taoiseach Enda Kenny who launched the government’s new trade strategy, Ireland Connected: Trading and Investing in a Dynamic World at the Dublin Port Company with Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor and Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross. Photo: Mark Condren
Taoiseach Enda Kenny who launched the government’s new trade strategy, Ireland Connected: Trading and Investing in a Dynamic World at the Dublin Port Company with Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor and Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross. Photo: Mark Condren
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has launched the State's new trade and investment strategy to help prepare Ireland for a post-Brexit, post-US election world - but admitted many of the key targets aren't new.

In fact, the vast bulk have their roots in previous documents or commitments, and at least two specifically date as far back as 2015.

No harm in keeping them in focus, the Taoiseach explained at the Dublin Port Company yesterday, flanked by Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan, Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor and Transport Minister Shane Ross.

The document - published in the context of the impending triggering of Article 50 and the potential changes to the US tax landscape - lists eight ambitions, two of which were announced in Enterprise Ireland's new strategy in January.

One was detailed in the IDA's 2015-2019 strategy, published in February 2015, one was contained in a tourism strategy unveiled the following month, and a fifth one, related to increasing the numbers of international students coming here, was announced last October.

The other three draw on either the Enterprise Policy 2025 document, another product of 2015, or on Enterprise Ireland stated commitments in the context of Brexit, Enterprise Ireland confirmed.

"Repetition is the mother of learning," Mr Kenny said.

"This is not a rehash. We have already mentioned many of these objectives before - no harm to keep them in focus."

The strategy was produced jointly by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

Read more: Enda Kenny unveils State's new trade and investment strategy - but measures aren't new

One official said it essentially brings together the priorities of the State agencies and departments into one document.

Targets include increasing indigenous exports to reach €26bn by 2020, generating 30,000 more jobs in tourism by 2020 and €5bn in overseas tourism revenues by 2025, securing 900 new foreign direct investments in the period to 2019, and increasing international student numbers by 27pc to reach 176,500 by the academic year 2019/2020.

Meanwhile, business concerns about the impact of Brexit have eased over the past six months, but currency risk is still undermining competitiveness, according to a survey by Dublin Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber's survey found that 39pc of firms expect Brexit to have a negative effect, down from 50pc in August.

Irish Independent

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