Minister Cannon T.D. address at the Guaranteed Irish GI Month Launch
Speech07 February 2018
I am very pleased to be here today to launch Guaranteed Irish month.
Our government, our Department and I acknowledge and appreciate the work of Guaranteed Irish in creating an internationally recognisable symbol of Irish provenance and trust. The GI brand provides a high water mark of quality and promotes a sense of great pride among Irish people and our diaspora globally.
GI has a long and successful history of promoting quality Irish products and services. In more recent times, and with the brand re-launch, I am pleased to see GI’s success in attracting new members.
With this in mind, and with Ireland’s economic recovery now firmly established, we must work together and focus our efforts on building the resilience of the economy and ensuring the fruits are broadly shared across the population.
This recovery is built on a solid economic foundation, led by strong export growth, and, in recent years, improved private consumption (up by 3.3% in 2016). This business success has been hard won and is reflective of the wider economic recovery that Ireland has experienced.
We have seen the outcomes of these goals here in the stock exchange but also through key indicators like unemployment, which is down to around 6% and in exports and job creation, which are up and in inflation and public debt which are down.
There has never been a better time to start a business in Ireland, start-up activity is at a record high, with the number of new company incorporations increasing apace each year, such that in 2017 start-up companies accounted for over two-thirds of all new jobs created in Ireland.
My Department is making its own effort to further contribute to that, this year we launched Back for Business, a pilot coaching and mentoring programme to help returning Irish emigrants to set up business in Ireland, and the feedback from our 45 participants has been extremely positive so far.
Britain is still however the first market of choice for SMEs that seek to export and many Irish companies have integrated and complex supply chains that stretch across the British-Irish border.
Avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland and the protection of the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement and the gains of the Peace Process is therefore an absolute priority for the Irish Government - as is ensuring the integrity of the Single Market and Ireland’s place in it.
The potential impacts are profound, with specific sectors such as agri-food particularly challenged. What is therefore required is a hard-headed, radical and innovative response.
Ireland has therefore been to the fore of negotiations and has developed a position that best protects the interests of Irish companies, large and small, as well as those that are exporting or not. In tandem we will continue to make the case at EU level that Ireland requires support for Irish businesses most affected by Brexit.
Pragmatism will win out in the end and where there are difficulties or knock-on effects on business, Government will seek to minimise them and competitive Irish businesses will overcome and adapt as they have always done.
Despite a challenging regional and global environment, indigenous exports and domestic demand are now making strong positive contributions to our economic prosperity. Through the hard work of Irish people and Irish companies, many of whom rely on the strength of the Guaranteed Irish brand, our country and our economy continues to gain international recognition as an attractive place to; do business, live, work and visit.
The Government’s recently published trade strategy, ‘Ireland Connected: Trading and Investing in a Dynamic World’, (launched in March last year) outlines a vision for building on our strong global reputation and delivering robust and sustainable economic prosperity. Some of the key targets in this ambitious strategy include:
Increasing indigenous exports including food, to reach €26 billion by 2020 – up by 26% from 2015
Generating 30,000 more jobs in tourism by 2020 and €5 billion in overseas tourism revenues by 2025
Securing 900 new foreign direct investments in the period 2015-2019
Intensifying and diversifying 80% of indigenous export growth to 2020 to be outside of UK market and maintain exports of at least €7.5 billion to the UK
Increasing investment in developing innovative products, services and solutions by 50% in Irish owned enterprises to reach annual RD&I spend of €1.25 billion
Increasing the number of our Irish owned companies of scale by 30% seeing a greater number exceed turnover thresholds of €3 million, €20 million and €100 million
To meet these targets, in the face of a radically changing trade and investment environment, Ireland will requires institutions - such a Guaranteed Irish - to not only promote the quality of our products and services but also to endorse our open economy which relies on principles of free and fair trade.
If we can work together to achieve our shared interests I am confident we will build a stronger and more prosperous country for our people.