Minister Simon Harris was guest of honour at the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland’s annual Thanksgiving Lunch today in the Clayton Hotel, Burlington Road, attended by over 1000 members of the Chamber.

Speaking at the event, American Chamber President, Barry O’Sullivan said ““I am delighted to welcome Minister Simon Harris to our Thanksgiving celebration today. This is one of the key times during the year when our members gather to reflect on the remarkable strength of the US Ireland business relationship, which continues to grow and deepen. For example, last year, inflows to Ireland accounted for just over 25% of total flows to Europe, second only to the Netherlands. Since 2,000, only the Netherlands and the UK have attracted more US capital than Ireland. In a recent survey of our members, 75% of them said they have increased head-count this year.”

“The relationship between Ireland and the US is two-way, with over 700 Irish companies exporting to the US. Over 400 Irish companies now have operations in the US, investing $85.5bn, and employing over 100,000 people in over 2,000 locations. In our US Ireland Business Report published earlier this year, we referenced the fact that Ireland competes strongly within the Eurozone, we are first in the world in terms of workforce flexibility, and we are ranked 7th out of 128 countries in the 2016 Global Innovation Index.”

Barry O’Sullivan also said “I believe, we can sustain our Irish Advantage by focusing on four key attributes; Investment, Innovation, Inclusion and International Collaboration. Every year, our Chamber engages directly with hundreds of our Leaders across Ireland to hear their top issues, invariably they centre on innovation, talent and investment. This was confirmed by independent research conducted by the Chamber this year which found that almost 9 in 10 Irish people believe that US companies are critical to Ireland’s future. 7 in 10 believe that US companies invest here because of the talent, skills and innovation that they find. The pace of change has never been as fast as it is today, and will never be as slow again. When our clocks next go forward, Ireland will be the only English speaking, common law, country in the EU.

In Ireland, we must ask ourselves, are we prepared to seize the opportunities that now present themselves? Are we thinking big about the new potential of Ireland as the natural bridge between the US and EU i.e. about our capabilities & skills pipeline and about our physical and digital infrastructure programs?”

Barry O’Sullivan said “In this regard, we welcome Project 2040 announced by Government early this year. Ireland needs Dublin to be a city of global importance and Dublin needs investment in its infrastructure. As a business leader working in the Shannon region, I fully believe balanced regional development is key to a sustainable economic future for Ireland. We welcome the new capital plan and we urge its speedy implementation for the benefit of business and communities all over Ireland. We also need to focus on our Education system, at every level, needs reform to develop the technical, teamwork and problem-solving skills in young people required to succeed in a digital world, and to reverse our falling University rankings – a real worry if we want to attract more world class researchers to work in Ireland.”

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