US Economy
Brookings says Irish FDI into US accounts for 141,600 jobs - Reality Check?
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Jul 17, 2014 - 8:09 AM

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Brookings Institution, the Washington DC think-tank, gives Dublin an 8th ranking in the top global cities "sending" FDI (foreign direct investment ) to the US, which accounts for 141,600 American jobs -- the Reality Check is that this claim is mainly a fiction.

Brookings said this week: "The Irish capital region hosts the headquarters of accounting giant Accenture, medical equipment supplier Covidien, building materials conglomerate CRH, and diversified industrial companies Ingersoll-Rand and Cooper Industries, to name a few. In total, Dublin-based companies employ nearly 141,600 US workers through FDI."

Apart from CRH, the cited companies are American that have become Irish for tax purposes via what is called a tax inversion.

Finfacts: US-Ireland Tax Inversions 600,000+ staff: Kenny, Noonan met with top US corporate lawyers

Cooper Industries has already been absorbed into the much bigger Eaton Corporation of Ohio, which is now faux-Irish and Covidien will soon be part of Medtronic, as a newly minted Irish company with a payroll of 77,000.

Accenture, the US consultancy has 43,000 employed in the US.

Six of Nasdaq's 20 listed Irish companies are Irish companies.

It's even debatable if CRH, the global building materials group and one of Ireland's few authentic transnational companies of significance, should be realistically called Irish. 

CRH was formed through a merger in 1970 of two leading Irish public companies, Cement Limited (established in 1936) and Roadstone Limited (1949) and funds now own 83% of its shares with Irish funds having a 4% holding.

The rest of the shares are categorised 'Retail' but we can assume that ex-Ireland residents own at least 90% of the group.

The Americas division had 37,000 employed in 2013, mainly in the US.

The big indigenous food groups Kerry and Glanbia had global payrolls in 2013 of 24,500 and 5,200 respectively -- they do not provide geographical breakdowns of staff but a third of Kerry's €5.8bn revenues came from the Americas and half of Glanbia's sales of €3.5bn came from the US. 

Employment in Ireland is at about 2,000 of a total payroll of 76,000 and Irish revenues were €278m from a total of €18bn. 

The American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland produces an annual report [pdf], which often makes exaggerated claims based on confusing data.

The 2013 reports says Irish companies employed 136,000 in the US in 2012  and added: "Irish foreign affiliate sales in the US in 2012 estimated at $50.1bn - - were 15% larger than US imports, a healthy spread that underscores the maturity of the bi-lateral relationship."

IDA Ireland, the Irish inward investment agency, and Enda Kenny, taoiseach/ prime minister, use this misleading data as fact and last March at the annual St. Patrick Day meeting at the White House, President Obama showed that he had also bought the fairytale: "There is tremendous investment by US companies in Ireland. There's tremendous investment here in the United States by Irish companies. We're an example of the mutually beneficial trade that can take place across the Atlantic."

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