An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, has today (Monday) announced Government plans to double Ireland’s global footprint by 2025. The Taoiseach made his remarks in a speech to an Enterprise Ireland Business Breakfast in Toronto. Mr Varadkar is on the second day of a three-day official visit to Canada, where he is meeting with a range of political and business leaders.
The Taoiseach also outlined his intention to further deepen the strong trading relationship between Ireland and Canada, which already amounts to trade of more than €2.75 billion per year. The key aims of Ireland’s Global Footprint 2025 are:
- Attracting greater investment in Ireland
- Boosting tourism and trade;
- Building stronger links with our diaspora and;
- Increasing cultural exchange
Speaking today An Taoiseach said:
“Ireland has long been recognised as one of the most open trading economies in the world. Ours is a highly competitive, export-driven economy, which has recovered very strongly from the economic crisis of the last decade. Ireland is one of the fastest growing economies in Europe, with GDP growth of 5.1% in 2016, and expected growth of 4.3% this year. At 6.4%, unemployment is now back to levels last seen in 2008.
“Our exports are performing particularly strongly. Enterprise Ireland client exports reached €21.6 billion in 2016, up more than 6% year on year. Notwithstanding our strong competitiveness and vigorous economic growth, Ireland today faces undoubtedly the greatest set of political and economic challenges in a generation, as a result of Brexit. Now is the time to plan ahead with ambition.
“CETA, the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement, comes into effect on a provisional basis from this day next month. More than 98% of the tariff barriers to trade between Canada and the EU, including Ireland, will be removed. This will help unlock the enormous untapped potential for greater trade and investment between Ireland and Canada.
“Irish firms are already succeeding in Canada in sectors as diverse as enterprise software, e-learning, retail technologies, digital health, fashion, agri-food, fintech and advance construction products. Foreign Direct Investment from Canada to Ireland has been buoyant in recent years and at the end of 2016, IDA Ireland had 28 Canadian companies in its client portfolio, employing over 3,100 people in Ireland.
“We plan to grow this inward investment significantly in the years to come. Our efforts will undoubtedly be helped further by the entry into force of CETA. To fulfil our ambitions to increase trade, tourism and investment in the years ahead, we need to greatly increase our international presence.
“I intend to double the Team Ireland footprint overseas by 2025. This means new and augmented diplomatic missions and as well as significantly increased resources for our investment, tourism, cultural and food agencies overseas.
“This work is already underway. Earlier this month, I asked my colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney, to begin consideration of what this means for our diplomatic missions, and later this year government will approve the specifics of what Ireland’s doubled presence overseas will look like in 2025.
“Almost seventy years ago my forebear as Taoiseach, John A. Costello, announced on a visit to Canada that Ireland would formally become a Republic. Costello asserted that while we are a small country, ‘we wield an influence in the world far in excess of what our mere physical size and the smallness of our population might warrant’. In his vision we were a big nation in terms of our ‘devotion to the ideal of peace and friendly co-operation between nations, founded on international justice and morality’.
Today, in the twenty-first century - with all the challenges we face - we have an even greater ‘task and a duty’ to perform. So let’s do it.”