Today, Ireland is host and the European hub to over 1,000
multinational corporations. Ireland have
a large share of foreign-owned firms within the overall economic activity, we
actually account for about a quarter and for the majority of GVA generated in
the business economy. While the majority of business are Irish owned the
distribution varies across the board. Ireland continues to outperform its
competitors in attracting these companies as they require a
skilled, educated and highly capable workforce to drive their success, this
being one of the main reasons they chose to locate in Ireland.
Companies in ICT, Social Media, Pharmaceuticals and Finance with
names like Apple, HP, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pfizer, IBM, GSK, and Google.
While we do have a lot of big branded foreign companies we also have indigenous
companies like Smurfit Kappa, Dimple, Kingspan and Paddy Power competing on the
Looking back through the ages when the government bodies of 1948-
51 realised that we needed a more proactive development, they then established the
Industrial Development Authority (IDA), in 1949 quickly deciding that exporting
was the only way to develop the Irish economy.
In 1956 there was an introduction of capital and training grants
along with 5 years exports 50% tax relief, this actually became the corporate
tax rate that we have today. Bringing us into the 1960’s when foreign companies
set up 350 new enterprises in Ireland, Britain, America and Germany. Pfizer was
actually one of the first and have been in Ireland since 1969. During this time
of the 1960’s the FDI delivered 90 per cent of increased exports in
transportable goods and 70 per cent of new employment.
Over time the IDA began targeting winning companies before they
became more widely known and by the 1980’s a large number the world’s leading
electronics companies had established basic assembly and test facilities. By
targeting winning and specialisation companies to move forward with the strategy
we then acquired Dell in 1990 and IBM in 1996, along with some major banking
and financial industries like Deutsche Bank in 1991 and State Street in 1996.
By 2000 we were looking at gaming and tech companies of the
digital world and saw the arrival of Google in 2003, eBay in 2004 and Facebook
in 2008. We also saw the initial strategy of the IDA move from industrial and
simply attracting new companies to working with them in transforming operations
and securing sustainability.
In 2013 figures were released that advised “multinationals are responsible for direct and indirect employment of
260,000, or 15 per cent of the workforce, and spend €19bn in the Irish economy,
including €7bn on payroll and €2.7bn in corporation tax.”
Membership of the EU made Ireland a more attractive point of
access to the wider European market for foreign investors, especially American
multinationals. There was a large element of coincidence and chance in regards
to Ireland’s policy stance and Ireland did benefit disproportionately from the
flow of investment into Europe. The industrial policy played an very important
part in making this happen and the two identified elements being active
commitment to and defence of the low rate of corporation tax and the strategic
activity of state agencies.