World Economy

Ireland FDI Rises as Fears of Brexit Disappear

A business district in Dublin.A business district in Dublin.

Foreign companies are continuing to flock to Ireland despite the twin shocks of Brexit and a €13 billion ($13.58 billion) adverse tax ruling against technology giant Apple last year.

The country, which has been a magnet for US technology and pharmaceutical companies for nearly three decades, saw a record 99 new investments in 2016 that helped to create jobs at the fastest rate for 15 years, according to figures from IDA Ireland, the inward investment agency, NewsNow reported.

Irish policymakers were taken aback last year by the UK’s vote to leave the EU, which highlighted the dependence of some parts of the Irish economy on the UK market, and by the European Commission’s ruling in August that Apple’s tax arrangements in Ireland amounted to illegal state aid of up to €13 billion that must be collected.

But there had been a “significant volume of specific queries” from UK, US and Asian companies to invest directly in Ireland (IDA Ireland) after the Brexit referendum, the agency said on Tuesday.

Companies were making “detailed due diligence of a small number of locations within Europe” to ensure they had continued access to the European single market, and “Ireland is among those locations”, it said.

Meanwhile, the Irish government and Apple are appealing against the commission ruling, which cast a spotlight on the role of tax incentives in decisions by companies to put foreign direct investment into Ireland.

The country’s 12.5% corporate tax rate is one of the lowest in the EU and has come under attack from France and other member states. However, it is not the subject of the EU ruling.

Martin Shanahan, IDA Ireland’s chief executive, said investors’ perceptions of Ireland were so far unaffected by Brexit and the Apple ruling.

“I don’t think we will see any impact (from the Apple case) until the question (of the appeals) is settled,” he said. The impact of Brexit could start to become apparent by the second quarter this year as companies looking to invest in the EU, or UK-based businesses seeking continued access to the European single market, began to make concrete decisions on future plans, he said.


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