Sunday 22 July 2018

'Opportunity for Ireland' as UK's share of foreign direct investment appears to be shrinking - IDA chief

Martin Shanahan of the IDA. Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Martin Shanahan of the IDA. Photo: Frank Mc Grath

Donal O'Donovan in Davos

The UK's share of foreign direct investment appears to be shrinking, creating an opportunity for Ireland, according to IDA chief Martin Shanahan.

The UK's share of foreign direct investment appears to be shrinking, creating an opportunity for Ireland, according to IDA chief Martin Shanahan.

Ireland is regarded as  a “pro-enterprise and pragmatic” voice in European policy-making by corporate leaders, the IDA chief told Independent.ie this morning at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

He’s among the roughly 3000 delegates attending the event this week. As well as one-on-one meetings with business bosses, the IDA will host a dinner at a nearby hotel tomorrow night, where Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe will sit down with 70 senior corporate leaders.

This year’s dinner will see an increased number of Asian chief executives at the event, which is traditionally heavily weighted towards US multinationals, Martin Shanahan said.

The IDA has a strong pipeline of investment into Ireland, and expects further Brexit related moves by financial services firms, he added.

“We’ve had 16 financial services announcements to date and my expectations is we will see more,” he told Independent.ie.

The IDA like other agencies has been targeting firms that might leave the UK, but is also looking at businesses planning inward investment into to Europe who might now look less favourably on the UK as a base.

"The UK was the most successful in Europe at attracting foreign investment, we haven’t seen the hard data yet - we use FDI Markets to analyse trends - but all signs suggest there has been a slowing down (in the UK)," he said.

That's in the context of growing world and European economies, he noted.

"A slowing UK would be running counter to that," he said.

Brexit related banking and insurance moves from the UK into the remaining European Union have so far been limited.

Frankfurt has “done well” in gaining some high profile firms from London, he admitted.

“But we have done very well too. Its no secret that there has been huge competition (between locations hoping to host firms),” he said.

“Ireland remains extraordinarily attractive as a location for investment,” he said.

The true impact of announcements already made in Ireland won’t be felt in terms of jobs won’t be felt until at least the end of the year., Martin Shanahan said.

In Davos, the arrival tomorrow of US President Donald Trump is now keenly anticipated by delegates. US business leaders here, ranging from Blackstone’s Stephen Schwarzman to Uber’s Dara Khosrowshahi are mingling with political leaders including Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and Justin Trudeau as well as Nobel prize winners, academics and the heads of non government organisations (NGOs).

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