Tuesday 23 July 2019

FF-led boycott of goods 'from occupied lands' could threaten tech investment

Money talks: Bono joins a panel session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Money talks: Bono joins a panel session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

A Fianna Fáil-backed bill that seeks to boycott goods from the Occupied Palestinian Territories could jeopardise US investment in Ireland.

As the economy faces the threat of Brexit, it has been claimed that the proposed law could create serious difficulties for US multinationals, perhaps even prompting some to consider leaving.

The respected Bloomberg news agency warned that companies like Apple and Facebook may be forced to choose between its operations in Ireland and their business in Israel.

Meanwhile, Simon Coveney said that the law - which is likely to pass the Dáil today - could see US companies in Ireland "placed in an impossible conflict of jurisdictions".

He said there is legislation in the United States that would forbid companies from cooperating with trade bans on Israel and Israeli settlements.

Mr Coveney said Irish diplomatic missions and agencies in the US have already received queries from companies concerned about the impact of the bill.

The American Chamber of Commerce which represents 700 US companies here is monitoring the situation.

It is taking the views of its members on provisions in the bill "which could cause economic impacts or uncertainty for inward investment".

A spokesperson called on all political parties to ensure its members "can continue to operate in Ireland in compliance with its laws and that of the United States".

The proposed law, the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018, was originally put forward by Independent Senator Frances Black.

Fianna Fáil has backed the law as have Sinn Féin, Labour and Solidarity-People Before Profit, meaning it is all but certain to pass a Dáil vote.

Niall Collins, Fianna Fáil's foreign affairs spokesman, last night defended his party's backing for the bill despite concerns over its impact on US companies here. He said he doesn't believe it will jeopardise any jobs in Irish-based US multinational companies.

Mr Collins added: "Any sensible company that takes the time to actually read the Bill will accept and understand that it does not advocate a boycott of Israel.

"This bill does not ban trade in Israeli goods; it would only ban those produced in illegally built settlements."

Mr Collins said Fianna Fáil has legal advice that if passed, the bill "will not have an adverse effect on trade generally", and isn't contrary to EU and international law.

Mr Coveney disputed this in the Dáil, saying the Attorney General has advised that the passing the bill would put Ireland in breach of EU law and Ireland would face legal action and "very significant fines".

He said that despite being well intentioned, it "will do serious damage to Ireland and bring only momentary consolation to Palestinian citizens".

Irish Independent

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