Saturday 21 July 2018

Housing and poor transport links 'hold back Canadian investment'

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a visit to Ireland this year. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a visit to Ireland this year. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

The housing crisis, poor transport infrastructure and competition for scarce staff are the key factors deterring investment in Ireland, according to a survey of major Canadian businesses.

Congestion and high office rents in Dublin are also key obstacles, even though businesses in Canada see Ireland as increasingly important as a European base as a result of Brexit and a new free trade deal.

Ahead of Canada Day on Sunday, the Ireland Canada Business Association (ICBA) said a survey of its members - including the likes of Air Canada, Irving Oil, Canada Life (Irish Life), TD Bank, Bank of Montreal, Shopify, and Voxpro - think the environment here needs to improve for Ireland to remain attractive to investment.

Canadian multinationals are increasing in size and significance in Ireland - with job numbers at Canadian controlled businesses up almost 40pc since 2014.

But the ICBA survey shows significant concern about Ireland's attractiveness as an investment location, according to Chris Collenette, vice-chair and director of the ICBA.

"Figures are clearly showing that Canada is becoming a major economic player in Ireland. But we are in danger of missing out on this opportunity.

"Our members - some of Ireland's largest employers - have identified that a severe lack of housing, urban transportation and competition for talent are serious obstacles to growth.

"Recent reports from National Competitive Council and also the IMF back up these claims," he said.

Canadian investment here had been tipped to increase, in particular as a result of Brexit and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) free trade deal between Canada and Europe.

ICBA members surveyed do see opportunities, with Ireland the most attractive EU country for Canadian investment - but the operating environment must be improved, Mr Collenette said.

The survey found that the top factors for Canadian companies in establishing a base in Ireland include the shared culture between both countries, access to the EU market, the Irish labour pool - seen as educated and multilingual - the English language, ease of doing business, the corporate tax rate, support from the IDA and similar legal systems.

Irish Independent

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