Dáil Éireann - Volume 603 - 31 May, 2005
Written Answers. - Economic Competitiveness.
Ms O. Mitchell Ms O. Mitchell
84. Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment his views on the European Commission’s quarterly report on the euro area which shows Irish exporters are less competitive than their European counterparts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18084/05]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Mr. Martin: The European Commission’s quarterly report on the euro area asserts that Ireland’s export performance appears quite weak relative to the euro-area average for the 2000-03 period, once the effects of our high-tech sector are excluded. At first glance this appears a rather surprising statement but on closer analysis the basis for the Commission’s assessment is very narrowly defined. For example, the Commission’s analysis is restricted to euro-area goods export data and it does not include internationally  traded services. It also excludes exports from one member state to another.
The exclusion of both services and exports to other member states is bound to produce an analysis that does not comprehensively reflect the reality of Ireland’s export and competitiveness performance. This is particularly important because our export performance is driven by high technology exports from companies that use our competitive economy as a bridgehead into many European markets, particularly in the high value added pharmaceutical and ICT sectors. These qualifications are important as the Commission itself acknowledges when it commented “the recent export performance of Ireland is significantly weaker when only goods are considered”.
Ireland’s competitive success continues to be built on key strengths as having one of the most favourable taxation regimes in Europe, access to the EU’s internal market, a well educated and skilled workforce and a history of consistently pursuing pro-business policies to secure a competitive environment that is highly attractive for indigenous and foreign investment. These policies have ensured that on the basis of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development data, Ireland’s share of global and EU foreign direct investment has risen sharply in recent years. From just under 4% of the total in 2000, Ireland accounted for more than 8% of total inflows to the EU-15 in 2003. On a global basis, we won almost 5% of total world inflows. Hard nosed investment decisions are not made in favour of uncompetitive and lowly rated economies.
We will continue to innovate successful enterprise policies that increasingly promote quality employment and investment opportunities in high technology products and the rapidly expanding high value international services sector of the economy.
Dáil Éireann 603 Written Answers. Economic Competitiveness.