For decades, Ireland has pursued a clear strategy of being a business-friendly location for foreign direct investment, writes Mark O'Sullivan.
Ireland's early FDI strategy was to attract companies in the manufacturing sector to use the country as a platform to export manufactured goods into Europe. However, since Ireland's cost base increased in the mid-90s, the focus has increasingly been on sectors creating positions higher up the value chain.
In more recent years, FDI has been flowing into sophisticated sectors including technology, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, and financial services. Foreign investment is now the main driver behind Ireland's economic recovery. The 2008 financial crisis ultimately served to increase Ireland's competitiveness and to renew its focus on being, as our Taoiseach so often puts it, "the best small country in the world in which to do business."
International companies announcing Irish jobs in the first half of 2013 alone include Ebay, EMC, McAfee, Pfizer, Symantec, Zurich, Yahoo, Facebook, Guidewire, Groupon, Novartis, AOL and FireEye.
Along with leading technology companies like Google, Dell, Intel, Hewlett Packard, Twitter and Apple, nine of the top 10 global pharmaceutical companies, eight of the top 10medical technology companies and over half of the world's 50 largest financial institutions have a presence in Ireland. By way of example, a significant portion of our own firm's revenues are derived from international companies and financial institutions.
To find out more about FDI in Ireland, we commissioned a major report in 2012 by the Economist Intelligence Unit which found that Ireland's most important competitive advantages are access to EU markets, a competitive corporate tax infrastructure, a uniquely talented workforce - both home-grown and from abroad - and a stable regulatory framework that supports business.
Most FDI continues to come from the US which accounted for 74%of Ireland's FDI in 2012 alone. Ireland is the top location for US FDI globally in the chemicals and pharma sector and second worldwide in the IT sector. The reasons for US interest in Ireland are many, but a shared language, a similar business and legal culture and Ireland's business-friendly, cost-effective environment and highly-skilled workforce are all key factors.
Ireland, as the only English-speaking Eurozone member state, is the leading gateway for international companies...