I don’t do doom and gloom, I do ‘reality’ instead and the economic position we find ourselves warrants some reflection. We are the authors of our own destiny and it’s an awesome responsibility when you think about it. Our individual and collective behaviour and actions will decide Ireland’s future.
While the intervention of the IMF, the ECB and the EU will contribute to the stability of our finances it does not address that which is imperative, namely economic growth. As citizens of this Republic we must be the architects of Ireland’s future.
The Industrial Development Agency (IDA) and Enterprise Ireland (EI) have been hugely successful in attracting Foreign Direct Investment to Ireland. Household names such as Intel, Microsoft, Pfizer, Centocor, Google, Facebook are all based here for good reason.
Story telling is a most powerful means of communication and we in Ireland don’t do enough of it. Germans talk about the performance of German Companies, we in Ireland have to value our own companies more. I encourage you to be active story tellers of the growing success of Irish companies in worldwide markets.
When Ireland is viewed from afar we are involved in so much of what goes on around the world however we just don’t publicise it enough. By way of example a local company Abtran is involved in Business Process Outsourcing which in reality is Services Innovation, among their clients are BSkyB and Prometric.
If you travel to London and you shop in Harrods and present your credit card, the Dynamic Currency Conversion Software that handles that transaction is supplied by Fexco, an Irish company based in Kerry.
Over the last 24 months developments in Ireland have diminished our international reputation.
At the same time we in Ireland failed to sufficiently communicate Ireland’s positive performance. Some of our key achievements are:
- 1st for Corporate Taxes that do not discourage entrepreneurial activity;
- 4th for the availability of skilled Labour;
- 4th for having a culture that is open to new ideas;
- 6th for labour productivity;
- 9th for the flexibility and adaptability of people;
- 9th across the EU in terms of innovative activity (EU);
- 8th in the world for ease of doing business and 1st in the Eurozone.’
(Source: The World Competitiveness Year Book 2010)
In future all of us must communicate to our customers, business associates and key influencers evidence based and contextualised information in a professional manner. This I believe represents the key first step in the journey to restore our international reputation. We are now an export driven economy and we must trade our way forward. Our main markets US, UK and Germany are out of recession, the World Market is up 4%, the context exists for further export growth in 2011 to build on 2010.
We have much to be proud of in Ireland. Today, Ireland is a nation of global reach, we are:
§ The largest exporter of infant formula in the World;
§ The largest net exporter of pharmaceuticals in the world;
§ The 2nd largest exporter of computer and IT services in the world;
§ The 5th largest exporter of beef in the World;
§ In Financial Services, 1.7 trillion Euro of funds are administered from Ireland.
All this, from a nation with a resident population equal to that of the greater Boston area or half the population of Sweden, Switzerland or Austria.
The importance of the Irish diaspora should not be underestimated. The Irish are in key positions of influence in business and in government. Some fared less well and they are no less important, no less Irish, no less part of our family.
Now Ireland must develop an additional diaspora through the education of overseas students in Ireland. Most importantly these overseas students are the future leaders, entrepreneurs and decision makers in their own countries.
Ireland is regarded by international buyers as being a source of sophisticated products and services. Exports sustain and create jobs, most importantly jobs in Ireland. Increasingly they will come from Entrepreneurship – High Potential Start Up’s and Small to Medium enterprise in the following growth sectors: life sciences, public procurement, cleantech, internationally traded services and construction services. Because every job is important Micro Entreprise is important and a valuable asset to our society. We must recognise the work of County and City Enterprise Boards in this regard.
Ireland is a nation with a proud history of meeting challenges, surviving, recovering, growing, achieving and being great. All the things that made Ireland great before still exist. Now, we are more capable than ever, with one of the most highly educated workforces in the world. Now, is the time to be in business in Ireland.
Ireland is a great Country and we will continue to be great. Ireland can be the comeback Economy of Europe. But we must again dream those dreams. Once again ambition must characterise our actions.