Saturday 21 April 2018

'Quality of Irish graduates draws US investment – not taxes'

THREE quarters of all foreign direct investment into Ireland came from the US last year, and US companies contributed about €16bn to the Irish economy in direct and indirect taxes.

Jobseekers will be buoyed by the announcement yesterday that US firms currently have 1,400 vacancies open in this country.

More than half of these vacancies are in the ICT sector, which includes the likes of Facebook and Google, while 15pc are in finance while another 15pc are in the medical technology and pharmaceutical industry. The hiring companies include the likes of IBM, Northern Trust, Boston Scientific and HP.

One of the main reasons for the sheer size of this investment is Ireland's 12.5pc corporation tax, which came under scrutiny this year after US Senator Carl Levin called the country a "tax haven".

But the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland argues that Ireland meets none of the criteria for a tax haven, and that low tax is not enough to attract multinationals.

"You can't run a massive biomedical facility here just because of taxes," said Peter Keegan, head of Bank of America Merrill Lynch Ireland, a company that employs about 1,800 people in this country. He is also the Chamber's president, representing members who include most of the major US multinationals that have Irish operations. He instead highlighted the quality of Irish graduates, a contrast after managers at Japan-based Fujitsu said there is a shortage of highly skilled industry-ready graduates in Ireland.

Earlier this year, a senior Fujitsu boss said the technology company is forced to look overseas for PhD-level employees.

But Mr Keegan said the sheer size of the multinationals in Ireland means that there will always be areas that Irish grads can't fill and that it is natural to source people from elsewhere.

The latest Irish investment from US companies includes a commitment from website publishing platform Squarespace, which plans to set up its European headquarters in Dublin with the creation of 100 jobs.

Electronic payments firm ACI Worldwide is also expanding its software development centre in Limerick with the creation of 60 new posts and South Carolina company Zeus Industrial Products is expanding facilities in Donegal.

But the relationship doesn't just work in one direction; Irish investment is also important to the US, albeit on a smaller scale. Irish companies directly employ an estimated 120,000 people in the US, within 227 companies across all 50 states.

Sarah McCabe

Irish Independent

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