The number of foreign investment projects in Ireland dipped slightly last year as France beat Britain to top the European league for the first time, according to a survey by consultants EY.
Despite the decline in number of projects here last year, EY's European Attractiveness Survey said the businesses had indicated investments into the State would continue to be robust despite growing trade tensions, concerns over supply chains in the post-Covid era and Brexit.
"While a reduction in the total number of projects may attract attention, it's important to note that Ireland's strategy has been to focus on the value and quality of the FDI it attracts rather than the volume," said Feargal De Freine, who heads EY Ireland's foreign direct investment arm.
"The new projects secured reflect an extension of the investor and project base, with 61pc representing new projects, rather than solely building on past successes."
The UK lost its FDI crown for the first time in the survey's history and was beaten into second place by France which became Europe's top destination for FDI in 2019, attracting 1,197 new projects, a 17pc annual increase.
Ireland saw 191 investment projects last year, a fall from 205 in 2018, although the State ranks first in Europe if you calculate FDI in per capita terms, according to EY.
The inflows are also relatively resilient, with EY saying that its analysis showed that 80pc of FDI projects in Ireland are likely be maintained in post-Covid world, compared with only 65pc of projects announced in 2019 being delivered on time, while a further 25pc of projects are expected to be delayed and 10pc to be cancelled.
Some of Ireland's past success in attracting investment has been attributed to aggressive tax planning by companies, a legacy of which is playing out in EU courts over what Brussels say was a €13bn sweetheart tax deal with Apple, and corporate inversions by US companies.
The US continues to be the most active investor country in Ireland, accounting for 61pc of 2019 projects.
Ireland is a big exporter of pharmaceuticals and chemicals to the United States and was recently bracketed along with China by President Donald Trump in a comment on pharmaceuticals exports that he wanted to re-shore in the US.
"Notwithstanding the current challenges, we believe we have an opportunity to build on Ireland's proven strengths to secure our long-term attractiveness to investors," said Mr De Freine.
"For example, 82pc of those surveyed expect technology adoption to accelerate in the next three years with Ireland well positioned to compete for investment in digitisation."
The State does however need to take major steps to fix its infrastructure to keep on winning investment and a survey published this week by the National Competitiveness Council highlighted some of the shortcomings.
It said that in 2019, 22pc of enterprises in Ireland with fixed internet access had access to high-speed internet, and 90pc had speeds of at least two megabytes per second, which was significantly below the top EU performers.