Good morning everyone. Thank you, Mary, for the introduction and also to Frank and Martin for the invitation to join you today.
I want to acknowledge the phenomenal staff of the IDA both here and throughout the world. Congratulations to you all on achieving the greatest increase in FDI-related employment in any one year and the highest ever level of employment by Multi Nationals in Ireland.
Helping to create 29,000 jobs in one year – or nearly 17,000 net – is an incredible achievement.
When I started out as Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport back in 2011, we were struggling to create that level of employment growth across the economy as a whole. So much has changed.
Back then, FDI and our traded sectors like agrifood and tourism helped us come through a severe financial crisis and recession. Ten years on, FDI has again led the recovery. The revenues you have helped to generate enabled us to protect many sectors of our economy from the worst of Covid.
Launching the Economic Recovery Plan over six months ago, I said that we were going to go for growth by backing business to ensure our economy could recover lost ground quickly and exceed pre-crisis employment levels by 2024.
That strategy is working. Notwithstanding set-backs the economy is rebounding strongly.
Last month’s CSO Labour Force Survey shows that over 110,000 people returned to work in the third quarter of this year. Encouragingly, employment is up in every region and every sector.
The number of people at work in Ireland is now approaching the 2.5 million target set for 2024, higher than it was before Covid.
Of course, the recovery is certainly not assured and the path will be rocky. The new public health restrictions are a reminder of that. Brexit remains a risk as do other external factors like supply chain disruption and soaring energy costs.
But I am confident that we can recover lost ground and create a more sustainable economy into the future, with better quality, more secure jobs.
The continued flow of FDI into Ireland cannot be taken for granted.
I know the huge amount of relationship building is required to win each and every one of the 249 investments over the last year – especially during a pandemic.
7% growth in IDA client companies, compared to last year’s 3.6%, really is remarkable.
Initially we could see that activity had slowed considerably during the early phase of the pandemic, with core functions such as site visits and in-market company engagements dropping significantly.
The delivery of projects into 2021 was expected to be severely challenged.
But you utilised digital capabilities to carry out activities remotely and engaged intensively with existing and target clients on their growth agendas.
133 out of 249 – or 53% - of investments went to counties other than Dublin.
This is the largest number ever and the highest percentage since 2009.
The nationwide spread sees a 10% increase in the Midlands, 8% in the South East.
Overall, it is a good mix of new name investments and expansion of existing IDA clients and testimony that Ireland continues to be considered an excellent destination for those seeking to invest.
The coming period will be characterised by an accelerated pace of change set against a continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
That change will involve a focus on the twin transitions of digital and green.
This year’s results show a strong performance in sustainability, with a mix of carbon reduction projects and new investors building Ireland’s green economy capability.
25% of IDA clients now measure CO2 emissions from operations in Ireland.
31% of companies have also developed a Climate Action Plan, with emissions reduction, purchase of renewable energy and the circular economy featuring as the major priorities.
Needless to say, while this is welcome – it’s not enough.
Early next year, the Government plans to publish a National Digital Strategy.
It will set out a pathway to drive and enable the digital transition across the economy and society, to maximise the well-being of our citizens, the efficiency of public services, as well as the productivity, competitiveness and innovation of our economy.
The Government will also establish a new €85 million Digital Transition Fund, which will help companies at all stages of the digital journey – from the early days of simply going online; to digitalisation of products and business processes; to facilitating export and using digital technologies to develop new markets and business models.
As you know, in October, the Government took the decision to join 140 member states in signing up to the OECD’s International Tax agreement. For most companies in the State, nothing will change. 95% of enterprises are outside of the scope of the agreement, that is, assuming it is ratified and implemented.
For the larger companies affected by Ireland’s decision to join the OECD agreement, they now have greater clarity, a long-term view, and the assurance of enduring stability on tax policies as they make decisions about where to invest.
Related: Highest Increase in FDI Employment in a single year – IDA Ireland