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Downturn forces global investors to avoid Ireland

Foreign companies have said they were reluctant to invest in Ireland last year and preferred to "wait and- ee" what impact the downturn would have, according to the Investment Development Agency (IDA).

International companies such as Pfizer, Intel and Dell are vital for providing high level employment within the country.

However last year, the negative sentiment in the economy impacted on "deal flow", IDA chief Barry O'Leary said.

The organisation outlined recently that it had secured 125 investments in 2009, but only 38 of these were new investments from companies which were not already based here.

This latest information came as it was revealed that exports plummeted by 14pc to €6.5bn within November.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures showed pharmaceuticals propped up the trade performance of the country.

Imports declined by 18pc to €3.7bn, leading to a lower trade surplus of €2.8bn, according to the data.

The IDA is keen to push ahead with the appointment of an IFSC "tsar'' appointed by the Government to promote financial services in Ireland.

Dublin's IFSC, where 25,000 people are employed, has fallen dramatically in a major global index of financial hubs over the last 18 months -- from 10th to 23rd place. The industry has been given a couple of weeks to submit the plan. The Clearing House Group, which is made up of IFSC firms and civil servants, wants to recruit someone with an international presence.

There is also speculation that the Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan may reintroduce some version of the so-called remittance basis of taxation, which was scrapped by his predecessor Brian Cowen four years ago.

Chief economist with National Irish Bank, Ronnie O'Toole, said he expected total goods exports for 2009 to fall back by 3pc drop on 2008 levels.


However, chief economist of Bloxham Stockbrokers, Alan McQuaid, said that sterling movements could come to the aid of "indigenous" exporters.

He believed sterling would rise to 80p against the euro by the end of the year, helping firms that sell to Britain.

"We continue to look to exports to be the key driver of the Irish economic recovery and, with global demand picking up and sterling appreciating, the omens look good," he said.