Tánaiste’s visit to Moscow, 6-7 November 2011
Business Breakfast, Marriott Aurora, Moscow, 7 November 2011
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to be here this morning to address such a distinguished audience. I wish to acknowledge Ambassador McDonagh and Mr Pat Maher of Enterprise Ireland – we are grateful to EI for hosting this event, and the number of Irish companies and their Russian partners here today demonstrates a lively interest in Russia as a growing market.
Ireland and Russia have long and close ties of friendship, built on mutual respect and cooperation and includes the political, trade, cultural and education spheres.
I was delighted that the soccer match between our two countries ended very cordially in a draw last September and that we both have a chance of advancing past the qualifiers! I wish Russia every success with their coming matches.
Trade in goods and services between our two countries is steadily increasing every year and is now approaching €2 billion per annum. There is great potential for this trade growth to continue.
The Strategy and Action Plan for Irish Trade, Tourism and Investment to 2015 has identified Russia as a key high-growth and high-potential market for Ireland. The local market team set up under the Strategy, with the participation of the Enterprise Ireland, Bord Bia and IDA Ireland and chaired by our Ambassador, is already working actively to develop further trade, investment and education links. A local market plan for Russia has been prepared by this team.
The holding of the Joint Economic Commission later today, which I will be co-chairing with Minister Okulov, is a tangible demonstration of the practical efforts both our countries are making to facilitate even greater trade.
There are many reasons why Russia is such an attractive partner for Ireland: it is the closest BRIC country to us geographically; there is a common strand of European culture that binds us together; our trade is of mutual benefit; Irish and Russian people find it easy to network and collaborate with each other, this has been the basis of many successful business partnerships and you here present this morning are cases in point.
There is an Irish saying that ‘there is no tax in talk’ so I hope you all use this opportunity to network and discover ways to cooperate together in the future.
Ireland, like most countries, has faced considerable economic challenges recently. It is clear that Ireland has had a difficult three years economically, primarily because of severe problems in the property and banking sectors.
We are starting to see signs of recovery, aided by strong and sustained export growth. Our exporting companies performed so well last year that our balance of payments with the rest of the world moved into surplus for the first time in over ten years.
Even with the problems we have face over the past few years, Ireland was rated 7th in the world this week in the UN’s Human Development index.
Ireland’s advantages as a place to do business are manifold. I am confident that Ireland will emerge from this economic crisis stronger than ever, just as Russia did in the 1990s.
We have a very open economy, a young, well educated and English-speaking workforce (4th in the world for the availability of skilled labour), strong levels of R&D activity, much improved cost competitiveness, a favourable regulatory environment and a pro-business culture.
We have a can-do attitude and are 6th globally in terms of productivity. The Irish have a long tradition of being not only tenacious, but also open to new ideas. We are creative and flexible.
Ireland remains the location of choice for many of the world’s leading firms and attracted over €21 billion in inward investment last year, an increase of 40%, despite the fact that FDI to the EU for the same period declined by 23%.
Ireland’s road to recovery has not been easy and we recognise that some challenges still remain. But we have addressed head-on the banking issue and recapitalised and strengthened the regulation of this sector.
We are determined to meet the target for 2012 of a deficit of 8.6 per cent of GDP. We can see evidence of the return of international investor confidence in Ireland, based on the evidence they can see of our successful implementation of the agreed programme for recovery to date.
We are committed to ensuring that Ireland regains its position as a vibrant, economically strong and confident society built upon even greater and more solid foundations than before. I firmly believe that we will be the recovery story of the Eurozone.
I am convinced that there are many opportunities for Russian companies to do business with Ireland in sectors such as ICT, energy and energy efficiency, aviation, engineering, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, food and drink industry, education and training, and research and development. There is also great scope to increase Russian investment in Ireland.
I encourage you all to meet with our Government and business representatives here today.
Our Embassy, including Enterprise Ireland which is hosting this networking event, stands ready to provide you with detailed and relevant information and introductions to the best that Irish companies have to offer.
I would like to thank you all for your attention and wish you every success in your business endeavours.