Irish charms keep U.S. giants sweet for now

Thu Nov 22, 2012 1:13pm EST
 

By Lorraine Turner

DUBLIN (Reuters) - U.S. business chiefs gathered in the Irish capital on Thursday to give thanks for low taxes, a cool climate and the financial crisis - three factors that have helped produce a bumper year in their favorite corner of Europe.

But there was a hint of foreboding at the American Chamber of Commerce's annual Thanksgiving lunch in Dublin that Ireland's promise to maintain its low corporate tax rate, its crisis wage cuts and its perfect weather for high-tech data farms may not be enough to keep the relationship sweet.

A limited pool of skilled workers, the loss of lucrative pharmaceutical patents and the threat of a fresh European attack on its low company taxes mean Ireland will need to fight to keep the investment flowing.

For its part, the government is thankful that multinationals, many of them based in the United States, are still backing Ireland as it struggles to recover from economic crisis and an international bailout in 2010.

"I'd like to give thanks for the U.S. investment and the enormous job creation," Finance Minister Michael Noonan told the executives gathered for a traditional Thanksgiving feast of turkey and pumpkin pie, saying he expected another record year for investment this year.

"It's important that what is being offered in Ireland is as attractive as it ever was," he said, promising to maintain a package of incentives for companies and executives to face down growing competition from Britain, Israel and Singapore.

U.S. firms invested $30 billion into Ireland last year, more than in China and the rest of emerging Asia combined, according to the American Chamber of Commerce.

Ireland has long cultivated its ties with the huge Irish-American community, and the country is sometimes tongue-in-cheek called the 51st state of the union.   Continued...

 
Ornaments are displayed in a gift shop in Dublin as Ireland goes to the polls on the fiscal treaty referendum May 31, 2012. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton