For the fourth straight year, Ireland emerged as Europe's fastest-growing economy, consolidating its position as the region’s most attractive investment destination. As the remaining English-speaking European country with friction-less access to the United Kingdom, the European Union and the United States, Ireland also has developed dynamic industries, such as ICT, medical technology and life science.
With Takeda’s takeover of Irish biotech company Shire, the largest overseas acquisition by a Japanese company, Japan has cemented its status as the largest Asian investor in the country, bolstering the Japanese presence in the business landscape.
The Japan Times, in partnership with Global Media Inc., is tentatively set to publish a Special Report on Ireland in October. The report will celebrate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Ireland and Japan by highlighting the success stories of this bilateral relationship and identifying more opportunities for growth.
Ireland is grabbing the spotlight away from its European neighbors after having posted GDP growth of 7.3 percent last year, three times faster than the EU average. While some observers may caution that multinationals account for a huge part of Ireland’s impressive growth, it is worth noting that the country’s domestic sector grew 4.9 percent, still much higher than the bloc’s average.
Once dubbed the Celtic Tiger in the mid-1990s, Ireland has recovered from a devastating economic recession in 2014. As of last year, employment has surged to 94 percent and average earnings have
grown 2.5 percent. This remarkable performance is attributed to a very active business community, which has advocated open market policies to create a favorable, dynamic investment environment.
The Dublin Chamber of Commerce, established in 1782, has not strayed from mission to help build a globally recognized business sector that favors domestic companies and multinationals equally. As Ireland consolidates its recovery from the recent recession, the group has shifted its efforts to improve regulatory structures and infrastructure, particularly infrastructure, housing and transport.
According to Dublin Chamber of Commerce CEO Mary Rose Burke, Ireland must make the shift in order to secure long-term growth. Looking beyond the EU and British markets, Dublin has set its sights to Asia, specifically to Japan and China.
“The direct flights to Hong Kong and Beijing are long needed and give Irish businesses more opportunities to promote their businesses in Asia and get their products into the Asian market. We see a lot of movement in the ICT industry. A lot of scaling companies would go into this area specifically AI, data analytics, as well as the agri-food and health food sectors,” Burke said.
Financial Services Ireland (FSI) is the Ibec group that represents the financial services sector. Founded in 1984, the association supports the development of the financial services industry both at domestic and international levels. FSI’s membership encompasses companies across banking, insurance, fund administration, investment management, corporate treasury, aircraft leasing, securitization, fintech and others, providing a single forum for the sectors leaders to discuss and resolve issues of common concern.
In July 2018, Paul Sweetman, formally Director of Ibec’s Technology Ireland, took over as FSI Director. According to Sweetman, the sector in Ireland is strong and firmly recognized as a leading global center for international financial services.
Sweetman said: “(This success) is built on a highly talented skills base, a business conducive environment and a joint industry and government commitment to fostering a competitive landscape that allows companies to grow.”
The sector is also keenly aware of the need to focus on innovation. Ireland’s financial services companies are heavily involved in cutting-edge research and development projects, alongside government sponsored research institutes.
“The sector in Ireland has a laser focus on joined-up, collaborative R&D, allowing us to bolster our global leadership position,” Sweetman also said.