Economy

‘We have become a cheaper place to do business in the EU'

Pratim Ranjan Bose Kolkata | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on May 22, 2012

Mr Feilim McLaughlin, Ireland’s Ambassador to India

Our economy has started growing in 2011; and in 2012 it will grow a little more, something under 1 per cent. We are very slowly making progress. Probably it couldn't happen without the corrections infused. — Mr Feilim McLaughlin, Ireland's Ambassador to India

Ireland was the first State in the Eurozone to be hit by recession. As part of its economic restructuring programme, Ireland is focussing on enhancing business ties with India (and China). In an interview to Business Line, Ireland's Ambassador to India, Mr Feilim McLaughlin elaborated Ireland's efforts to ensure growth.

Recent developments in Greece suggest strong public sentiment against conditions imposed by EU bailout packages. What has been Ireland's experience in pursuing such policies?

It had increased hardship. Unemployment is higher than it was. However, our ability to export has increased. Our cost basis is down to 2003 level. Wages are down. The result is: We never had a higher level of exports as we have now. We have become a cheaper place to do business in the EU. We always had an attractive taxation regime and skill base. Ireland is specialised in high tech areas of IT, pharmaceutical, life sciences and others. Our economy has started growing in 2011; and in 2012 it will grow a little more, something under 1 per cent. We are very slowly making progress. Probably it couldn't happen without the corrections infused.

You are going to face a referendum on May 31 on the EU fiscal stability pact. Do you think it would have an impact on investment decisions in Ireland?

No. Ireland has a favourable business environment regardless of the economic problems. The Irish government is the largest provider of venture capital in the EU and is proactive in attracting investment. There is no better place to do business in Europe. We do have structural deficits (primary deficit of 6.7 per cent of GDP, higher than Greece and Portugal) but that is whittled down in accordance with the bailout package.

In the last couple of years, mid-sized Indian companies were found acquiring assets in Europe. Has there been any such trend in Ireland?

A couple of Indian companies have set up their bases in Ireland. Indian companies, mostly mid-sized, were found interested to strike technological collaborations. There is not that much appetite for acquisition.

What brought you to Kolkata?

We are organising a series of road-shows to make Indian business aware of opportunities in Ireland. We have started with Kolkata. This will be followed by visits in Pune, Chennai, Trivandrum and others. In a similar exercise, CEOs of Irish companies in India will appraise the business community in Ireland about opportunities available in India. In addition to encouraging growth in business we are also looking forward to attract Indian students into Ireland, especially for post graduate studies. We are currently attracting only 1,000 students a year. It has been increasing but not as quickly as we would like. We are looking forward to step it up to double in three years.

We are also targeting to attract 10 per cent of the 370,000 Indians who visit the UK. The current traffic is only 8,000. Accordingly we have recently relaxed the visa regime.

> pratim@thehindu.co.in

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Published on May 22, 2012
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