The current EU reform programme, on which Ireland will vote in the forthcoming referendum presents tremendous opportunities for Ireland, according to the President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland. Earlier on Monday, IBEC, the business lobby group, strongly dismissed claims by Sinn Fein that the Lisbon Treaty is bad for Irish business. It said Sinn Fein had absolutely no credibility when it came to matters relating to the Irish economy and could not be trusted on the issue.
|The European Union's logo in the Irish language, to mark the golden jubilee of the signing of the Treaty of Rome in 2007
Speaking following a meeting with the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, TD, Paul Rellis said: “2 out of 3 people in Ireland today are employed in the services industry. With a small island economy it is not just about having access to the larger EU market in theory that counts. It is having a genuinely fair chance on a really level playing field that will matter most over time.
“A market of over 500 million people in 27 countries needs rules and it needs strong institutions to enforce them. That is especially true for small countries like Ireland. This is not about needless regulation. It is about the essential architecture necessary to ensure stability and inspire confidence for the future.
“Ireland at the heart of a reformed EU and a reformed services market will provide huge opportunities for Ireland and will promote jobs growth, investment and continued economic success for Ireland and its citizens.”
Today, over 100,000 people are directly employed[i] in over 590 US firms in Ireland[ii] accounting for 70% of all IDA supported employment[iii]. Indirect employment in sub-supply and community industryand services has been estimated at over 225,000[iv]. The IDA announced over 114 new and expansion projects with US companies during 2007[v]. Almost two out of every three foreign direct investment projects coming to Ireland in 2007 have originated from the US. In 2007, US firms paid over €2.5b to the Irish Exchequer in Corporate Tax (or approx 40% of total corporate tax take in 2007[vi]) and contributed a further €12.5b in expenditure to the Irish economy in terms of payrolls, goods and services employed in their operations[vii].
From a business perspective the Lisbon Treaty is a complete 'no brainer'
IBEC today strongly dismissed claims by Sinn Fein that the Lisbon Treaty is bad for Irish business. It said Sinn Fein had absolutely no credibility when it came to matters relating to the Irish economy and could not be trusted on the issue.
IBEC Director of EU and International Affairs Brendan Butler said:"From a business perspective, the Lisbon Treaty is a complete no brainer. The Irish economy has been a major beneficiary of membership of the EU and the Lisbon Treaty will further support Irish business and jobs."
Butler was responding to a claim today by Sinn Fein that the Lisbon Treaty will be bad for Irish business. "This is a bit rich from an organisation that not so long ago was calling for an increase in Ireland's corporation tax rate. Throughout this campaign Sinn Fein has deliberately misled the Irish public on business issues, including Ireland's veto on tax and on WTO decisions."
"The Lisbon Reform Treaty will reform how decision are made in the EU so that Europe can remain an engine for economic growth and prosperity. The Treaty will enable the EU to respond faster to the new challenges ahead, such as energy security, the rise of India and China as economic forces, and climate change. It is a very good deal for Ireland and should be supported," said Butler.
There are, according to Butler, many provisions in the Treaty that support jobs and the economy, and below are three examples:
"The Lisbon Treaty for the first time gives a role to the EU in terms of energy security. It provides for cooperation between member states when it comes to difficulties in energy supply and also promotes the interconnection of energy networks. In the current environment of rising prices, concerns regarding medium term supply levels and our reliance on fossil fuels, a coordinated approach to energy supply must be a big win for an Island economy the furthest away from the source of such fuels.
"As an open economy that exports almost 90% of everything we produce the Lisbon Treaty proposals to improve transport infrastructure across member states must be welcomed . Transport costs are a huge and increasing issue for Irish exporting companies and any measures that allow us to get our goods and services to market quicker and cheaper have to be welcomed.
"The third area relates to the potential for Irish companies in relation to the single market. There remain substantial additional business opportunities for Irish companies in areas such as financial, telecoms, energy and environmental services. Five years ago we had no exports in environmental services into the EU, last year our exports were €105 million. Overall our exports into the EU member states increased from €44 billion ten years ago to €88 billion last year. Ratification of the Lisbon Treaty will give a significant boost the completion of the internal market particularly in relation to services and this has to be good for Irish business and jobs."
Butler pointed out that IBEC was not alone in calling for a Yes vote in the Lisbon Treaty. Thirty six other business organisations, including,the American Chamber of Commerce, the Small Firms Association, Chambers Ireland and the Irish Exporters Association have come together and formed the Business Alliance for Europe. All 36 organisations which represent Ireland's 250,000 businesses employing almost 2 million people are actively campaigning for a yes vote.
[i] Source: IDA Oct 2006 from a Forfas Employment Survey, plus an estimated 10000 working in non-grant aided US businesses in Ireland.
[ii] American Chamber Database
[iii] IDA Annual Report 2005
[iv] American Chamber Estimate
[v] From IDA Press office based on the IDA's Annual Report
[vi] Amcham estimate based on IDA End of Year Statement 2006, Jan 2007 at 85% of total.
[vii]. Based on IDA stats for the Economic Impact of IDA supported companies at 85% of that total. IDA End of Year Statement 2006, Jan 2007