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Remarks by Minister Flanagan at Enterprise Ireland Financial Services Networking Dinner

Minister Charles Flanagan, Trade, Speech, Great Britain, Ireland, 2014


Remarks by Mr. Charles Flanagan T.D., Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade at

Enterprise Ireland Financial Services Networking Dinner for Irish companies and their UK guests

Embassy of Ireland, London, Thursday 13 November 2014


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to welcome you all to the Embassy of Ireland for this Enterprise Ireland-hosted dinner for some of Ireland’s leading financial software companies and their British guests. This event reflects the very close working relationship between our Embassy and Enterprise Ireland here in London. Thank you for being with us. You are key influencers and decision makers who can help to shape future business relationships and opportunities between your own organisations and many of Ireland’s most outstanding and experienced software and services companies.

Our objectives this evening are to strengthen and deepen business relationships between Irish technology and services companies and leading UK financial institutions, including retail and investment banks, investment, fund management, insurance companies and market partners, and to facilitate introductions and new relationships between influencers and decision makers within the UK financial services industry and senior executives in Irish software and services companies. Our host, Enterprise Ireland, hopes that this is an occasion where, in a relaxed environment for the leading players in your industry, customers and suppliers can initiate dialogue and relationships.

I would also like to say that I am very pleased that we are joined here this evening by my colleague, Minister of State Simon Harris. Simon was recently given responsibility for, among other things, international banking and the International Financial Services Centre in Dublin. He is currently overseeing the development of a new national strategy for Ireland’s international financial services sector, which is expected to be finalised in early 2015.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The UK is Ireland’s largest trading partner. In total, Ireland exported goods and services with a value of €32.5 billion to the UK in 2012. In the same year, we imported goods and services from the UK with a value of €26.5 billion. In fact, the UK exports more to Ireland than China, India and Brazil combined. Non-food exports to the UK by Enterprise Ireland client companies amounted to €3 billion in 2013, representing over one-third of all client exports. There are now close on 2,000 Irish-owned companies exporting to Britain.

Software & business services are amongst Ireland’s most important and fast-expanding sectors and are of strategic importance to Ireland. There are over 800 multinational and Irish owned technology companies in Ireland. The sector is set to grow exports by between 25-30% over the next three years and grow employment by between 10-15% over existing levels. Irish companies are strongly positioned across all areas of the services sector, both in the emerging technology-driven sectors such as applied software and life sciences, and in knowledge-intensive segments of longer established sectors where significant opportunities for growth exist.

Last year, global exports of Irish financial services and software reached €650 million, and were exported to over 100 countries. The UK is the second largest market by value after the United States for exports of Irish financial software, accounting for 25%, and the largest market for Irish financial services, representing 50% of exports.

Our guests this evening include representatives from six global retail and investment banks, four leading insurance and pension companies, eleven investment, private equity, fund and asset managers and nine guests from various professional services and industry sectors. This impressive presence demonstrates the importance of the relationship between Ireland and the UK and the ability of Irish companies to compete in one of the largest and most competitive financial markets in the world.

We are conscious of the fact that London is the largest financial services market in the world. The City of London ‘Square Mile’ is the world's leading international financial and business centre – a global powerhouse at the heart of the UK's economy. The Square Mile is a vital asset to the British and European economies. Its markets are innovative, competitive and internationally focused. It is a huge tribute to Irish companies that they are successfully winning business here.

The twenty-three Enterprise Ireland client companies here today include fourteen high potential start-ups in which Enterprise Ireland has invested. Start ups are an important part of any financial services ecosystem and those present today are amongst Ireland’s most innovative and experienced, and are committed to delivering high quality, flexible solutions delivering business efficiencies and competitive advantage.

Irish-owned companies have become very successful players in the highly competitive global marketplace and are contributing strongly to the growth of the Irish economy. Irish companies are engaged in a continuous dynamic process of transformation, centred on innovation and internationalisation. The indigenous enterprise sector is increasingly recognised globally as a hotspot of new products and processes, with intensely market-focused and innovative businesses, and teams carrying out ground breaking market relevant research and development.

Ireland, because of its comparatively small size, has fostered the growth of strong export-focused companies that have a wealth of experience, a technologically competitive supply base and a drive and determination to develop new markets.

Ireland’s financial services companies have been successful in Britain and internationally because they offer high quality products and business solutions that are tailored to specific customer requirements. These are young and innovative companies who have been successful in competitive markets by demonstrating flair and professionalism. They invest heavily in product development.

They understand what is needed to deliver competitive advantage to their customers so that they can get a fast return on their technology investment and justify such investment in a difficult business climate. Irish companies have excellent product and service capabilities as well as a very real flair for building strong relations with their customers, the kind of relationships that create mutually beneficial long-term partnerships.

We have been successful in the UK, continental Europe and in other markets throughout the world by demonstrating this flair and professionalism. Global opportunities for Irish businesses remain significant.

We have been highly successful in creating a dynamic enterprise culture in Ireland. We continue to invest heavily in research and development, with the goal of further developing our Smart Economy. A key feature of this approach is building the innovation or ‘ideas’ component of the economy through the utilisation of human capital – the knowledge, skills and creativity of people - and its ability and effectiveness in translating ideas into valuable processes, products and services. The exploitation of technology innovation, along with the skills and aspiration to grow, are key drivers in the internationalisation of Irish business.

One key message I would like to leave you with this evening is that Ireland has successfully emerged from the financial crisis of recent years. Our economic growth has recommenced, our export performance is buoyant, and the Government strategy for economic recovery is well in train. This is providing Ireland with the economic and fiscal certainty to navigate a path to economic growth. We have exited, successfully, from our EU/IMF programme. Confidence in Ireland has improved considerably in this year and interest rates on Irish Government bonds are at now highly affordable levels.

This month, the European Commission’s Autumn Economic Forecast has estimated that Ireland will be the fastest growing economy in the European Union this year, with a growth rate of 4.6% compared to an EU average of 1.3%.

There is good news also in our current export performance. Irish exports in 2012 and 2013 reached all-time highs, driving renewed growth. Economic recovery in international markets in recent years has increased demand for Irish products and services. Irish companies are widening their market reach, expanding into new international markets, and opening up new businesses.

Ireland’s continued status as a successful trading nation is predicated upon leveraging the advantages of its resources in skills, human capital and flexibility in serving markets. Our competitiveness is based on merging these attributes with a commitment to sustained innovation that is unmatched in the markets in which we compete. Behind Ireland’s export-led economy are: the right enterprise infrastructure; sustained investment in innovation and entrepreneurship; win-win collaborations; and delivering value to customers worldwide. And, of course, we have an open, transparent, stable and competitive corporate tax regime, as well as being positively engaged in EU and OECD discussions on the future of corporate tax arrangements.

The Government of Ireland, through the work of Enterprise Ireland, in close co-operation with my Department and its Embassy network, fully supports the efforts of our companies to win business with their advanced and highly competitive products and services. We are confident that Irish companies will continue to be a source of innovative products and services that sharpen your competitive edge and advance your success in this competitive global environment. This dinner is a further step forward in developing mutually rewarding partnership between us. Let me wish you all every success in your existing and future business relationships.