Cowen moves to allay threat on jobs
TAOISEACH Brian Cowen yesterday moved to dampen fears that the election of Barack Obama as US president could prompt the withdrawal of US companies operating in Ireland.
With Opposition parties urging the Government to start lobbying the new administration, Mr Cowen insisted Ireland must not make any judgments until Mr Obama outlines his policies in January. Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin also warned against people "overreacting" to Mr Obama's previous tax statements.
Earlier, Labour leader Eamon Gilmore told the Dail he was concerned some of Mr Obama's policies would make it more difficult for the US to invest in Ireland and this would jeopardise thousands of jobs.
During the election campaign, the president elect proposed that 1pc of taxable income should be credited to employers who make their headquarters in the US. He has also proposed that the US government would cover the cost of this tax break by having companies with subsidiaries abroad pay tax on profits earned overseas at the US rate of 35pc.
However, Mr Cowen yesterday insisted he was confident US companies would continue to invest in Ireland.
"Clearly, we have a very strong trade and investment relationship with the United States, which is a two-way mutually beneficial operation," he said.
"There are 70,000 people employed by Irish-owned companies in the United States. We have 510 US companies in Ireland employing over 96,000 directly."
The Taoiseach said the Government would monitor developments and keep in touch with the US administration.
"One must wait and see whether the political rhetoric of the presidential campaign translates into different policy positions that will have an impact on us."
In the Dail yesterday, Mr Martin insisted there would be a legislative input to any change in taxation policy and the Government would work hard to make its position known.
Despite the wary words both men congratulated Mr Obama, with Mr Cowen insisting the Government would facilitate him if he wished to visit relatives in Moneygall, Co Offaly.