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Thanksgiving: US investment rises to €23bn

AMERICAN companies invested more than $30bn (€23.3bn) in 2011, the second highest in history, it has been revealed.

Speaking at a Thanksgiving lunch in Dublin, the president of the American Chamber of Commerce Peter O'Neill said more than 700 US firms that have operations here spent some $30.5bn in 2011, up 9pc on 2010.

Overall, US multinationals employ 115,000 staff in Ireland, slightly less than the 120,000 Irish firms have in across the Atlantic.

Mr O'Neill praised the "positive trend" of US investment here, and highlighted the fact that 6,700 new jobs had been created in the sector so far in 2012.

He warned, however, that changes to the State's personal tax regime, never mind the corporation tax rate, would damage Ireland's prospects.

"It is important not to price Ireland out of the market for top talent in the forthcoming Budget.

"Personal taxation is a key element of this competitive mix and those arrangements have to be competitive with offerings elsewhere," he claimed.

The 12.5pc tax rate remains "pivotal" to Ireland's success, Mr O'Neill added.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan, however, dismissed any suggestion that the corporate tax rate would change.

"I'm under no pressure from Europe or anywhere else to move on it. There have been various articles in various newspapers but we don't operate on a brass-plate basis."

Mr Noonan, who described the tax regime as "respectable and transparent", confirmed the IMF was preparing a list of measures that would help Ireland get back to the international markets once it exits the bailout.

The fund is mandated to provide a number of "crutches" to help Ireland, such as making credit lines available if needed.

Mr O'Neill also yesterday publicly backed the Government's aim to begin talks on a new EU-US trade agreement during next year's presidency of the European Council.

"A deal has the potential to unlock billions of euro in new business opportunities which can only benefit Ireland.

"According to the EC, the prize is the injection of up to €122bn a year into the European economy benefiting the businesses that make up Ireland's industrial base," he said.

Irish Independent