Today is St Patrick’s Day, when Irish people celebrate our heritage and culture, together with our diaspora and friends around the world. In Canada, where one-seventh of the population claims Irish heritage, this special day recalls the deep historical connection between our countries, going back to the 16th century, when Irish fishermen first came to the Grand Banks off Newfoundland.
In the following centuries, generations of Irish people came to seek a new life in Canada, many fleeing famine, economic deprivation or political oppression. Canada welcomed Irish people with generosity, and in turn they helped shape Canada, from Confederation to the present day. Their contribution is commemorated in the names of streets and towns across the country, and their positive influence is found in all walks of Canadian life.
We are fortunate to be able to build on the sturdy foundation of our common history. Today, we are forging an ever closer partnership based on shared values and interests, which our Taoiseach Leo Varadkar articulated when welcoming Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Ireland in 2017:
“ … In an increasingly uncertain world, Ireland and Canada share the same outlook. We are like-minded. We believe in multilateralism, free trade, respect for personal liberty, the value of diversity, the benefits of migration, the need for climate action and openness to the world”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, shakes hands with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, at Farmleigh House, in Dublin, in a July 4, 2017, file photo. PAUL FAITH/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
The years since have seen rapid advances in that partnership, with strong growth in our bilateral trade, investment and tourism. This is all the more notable when set against the background of a turbulent period in international relations.
Two key developments have acted as catalysts for progress. The first is the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). By virtually eliminating trade tariffs and reducing regulatory barriers, CETA has created improved, more predictable trading conditions for business. The response has been dramatic. In the first year after the provisional implementation of CETA, the value of bilateral merchandise trade between our countries grew by close to 30 per cent.
The second, perhaps surprisingly, is Brexit.
Brexit presented significant political and economic challenges for Ireland, and continues to do so. The EU-U.K. Withdrawal Agreement meets our primary concern to safeguard peace and prosperity by avoiding any return to a hard border on the island of Ireland, while maintaining the Common Travel Area between Ireland and Britain, and protecting continuing North-South co-operation. In the upcoming negotiations, we will work with partners for the closest possible EU-U.K. relationship based on a balance of rights and responsibilities, including level playing field provisions for fair competition.
However, we know that in all scenarios Brexit will mean considerable change for our businesses trading with a U.K. outside the EU Single Market and Customs Union. We are preparing extensively for Brexit and have put measures in place over several budgets to support key sectors exposed to the British market, and to incentivize diversification. Even as Brexit presents ongoing challenges at home, however, it offers significant opportunities for the Ireland-Canada relationship. With CETA making it easier for companies to establish presences and invest in our respective jurisdictions, and Brexit driving diversification of our trade, Canada is a key target market for Irish business. Already, Canada is the 10th-largest market globally for Irish exports, while our companies are employing increasing numbers here in Canada in financial services, life sciences, business-to-business software and construction products.
Many Canadian companies and investors in financial services, technology and other sectors now look to Ireland’s unique offering as a culturally compatible, English-speaking, common-law country with barrier-free access to the 450 million consumers of the EU Single Market. With a business-friendly environment, a highly educated workforce and an economy averaging growth of four to five per cent per annum, Ireland provides the perfect gateway to the EU for Canadian business.
Since St. Patrick’s Day 2017, 21 members of our government have visited Canada in support of the growing bilateral relationship. In 2019, our government published its strategy to double our impact in Canada by 2025. To deliver this strategy, new resources have been provided to Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland, our export and investment promotion agencies, as well as Tourism Ireland, whose efforts have seen Canada rise to become the No. 6 market globally for tourism into Ireland. Just over a year ago, we opened a new diplomatic consulate in Vancouver – our first new diplomatic office in Canada in 80 years. A second such consulate is due to be opened in Toronto in the next two years.
These are exciting developments at a moment of unique opportunity in our relations and demonstrate Ireland’s commitment to seize that moment. In these testing times, Ireland-Canada relations provide a welcome good news story, and one worth celebrating on this St Patrick’s Day.
Published: Globe and Mail, 17 March 2020
Goldy Hyder says firms seeking stability want to avoid ‘short-term pain’ of UK’s exit
Brexit will present a “tremendous opportunity for Ireland” to attract investors concerned about the “short-term pain” facing the UK, the head of Canada’s most powerful business lobby group has said.
Goldy Hyder, president of the Business Council of Canada, which represents the chief executives of 150 large Canadian companies, said Ireland becoming the only English-speaking country in Europe under the EU-Canadian free trade agreement after Brexit made the State “an attractive destination for capital and talent”.
As the UK endures the “pain” of leaving the EU, Ireland could draw more investment from businesses in Canada that are looking for certainty in the political and business world, said Mr Hyder on a visit to Dublin.
“Businesses take a view of who offers me, as a business, the predictable, stable regulatory environment and also an environment that is attractive from the tax and talent side, and the Irish story is a very strong one,” said Mr Hyder, who represents companies accounting for half the value of Toronto’s stock exchange.
Ireland’s “resilience and rebound culture” in the decade since the financial crash and its embrace of an entrepreneurial culture, trade and multiculturalism “bode well for Ireland to be a magnet for both capital and talent” at a time when many other parts of the world were “going in other directions”, he said.
“If Ireland was a stock, I would buy. It’s probably ‘buy low’ right now still. I don’t think Ireland has achieved its full potential,” said Mr Hyder, who spoke at the annual Maple Leaf dinner of the Ireland Canada Business Association on Friday night.
Brexit an ‘anomaly’
Visiting Dublin after three days in the UK, which included a meeting at 10 Downing Street, Mr Hyder said Brexit was “unfortunate” and he hoped it was “an anomaly” while the world was breaking down into large trading blocs that provided businesses with predictability, certainty and confidence in markets.
Speaking a day after the EU and UK reached agreement on a new Brexit deal, he said he was “very pleased” to see the Irish-UK relationship remaining strong even on a bilateral rather than multilateral basis.
“Don’t short the UK,” he said, referring to the market bet against a share. “There may well be some short-term pain, but even their slogan – keep calm and carry on – has a certain applicability in this situation for them. There is a resilience and a resolve to continue.”
Mr Hyder expects the Conservatives to push for a UK-Canada free trade deal if Andrew Scheer unseats Canada’s liberal prime minister, Justin Trudeau, in Monday’s election.
He urged the Irish Government to ratify the EU-Canada trade deal, known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or Ceta, as soon as possible to give business “confidence” in the deal.
Asked about Aer Lingus’s postponement of a new Dublin-Montreal air route because of the unavailability of new aircraft, Mr Hyder said Canadian airlines Air Canada and WestJet had established routes with Ireland and that these routes would lead to the launch of more to serve growing tourism between the countries.
“I think tourism is going to see a significant bump. It’s just natural,” he said.
Source: The Irish Times, 19 October 2019 - Simon Carswell, Public Affairs Editor
In the latest of our special series of profiles, Laureen Regan, President and Founder of the Ireland Canada Centre for Commerce, Calgary, talks about doing business in Calgary and the province of Alberta.
Can you tell us a little about the ICCCC?
The Ireland Canada Centre for Commerce in Calgary works to promote and support bilateral trade between Alberta and Ireland. We create collaboration opportunities and business connections between Irish and Canadian professionals through networking and industry-specific events featuring key business leaders and diplomats.
What originally brought you to Calgary?
Waterford born, my family immigrated to Alberta for work many years ago. Here they found many opportunities, a strong entrepreneurial spirit to match their own and a welcoming community.
What advice would you give Irish companies about business in Alberta?
Irish Companies looking to start or set up a business in Alberta can see success if they are committed to maintaining a permanent presence here. It is difficult to gain traction when visits to Alberta are monthly or only every few weeks. Relationships are very important in the business community. It takes time, in market, to build connections and foster and grow the relationships needed to succeed.
Why Calgary? Top three things that make it a great place to live and do business
- Quality of Life
We are ranked in the top 5 most liveable cities in the world. The pool of highly qualified workers has made Calgary a global talent hub that is home to innovators and entrepreneurs.
The City has the benefits of having a large metropolitan centre, friendly and relaxed atmosphere, clean and safe environment, abundant green spaces and parks, longest urban pathway system, and an hour’s drive from the Canadian Rockies.
Calgary is ranked #1, out of Canada’s 100 largest cities for the sunniest days year-round – over 2,300 hours of sunshine annually!
- Connected to the World
Calgary has the highest head office concentration per capita in Canada. It has ready access to global markets through a highly integrated transportation and logistics system moving people, products, and services. Calgary also provides access to the rapidly expanding markets in Asia by air and via the Port of Vancouver and is also regarded by many European companies as a gateway to North America.
- Low cost of doing business
Compared to other Canadian jurisdictions, Alberta has no provincial sales tax, no health care premiums, lower personal income tax rates and the lowest fuel tax among provinces.
Calgary businesses also benefit from the fact that Alberta has no inventory tax, no machinery and equipment tax and no payroll tax, which are common in many other provinces and U.S. states.
Albertans. across all income ranges, will generally continue to pay the lowest overall taxes compared to other provinces.
If you could give one message to the Irish government about how to improve the Ireland Canada relationship, what would it be?
Canada is a large and diverse country, with much to offer. Alberta has strong, established markets in many sectors including agriculture, advanced industries, energy, renewables, forestry, water, manufacturing and more. Alberta also has leading university and research institutions.
Direct access through WestJet is opening up the Alberta market to Irish businesses and Canadian businesses are eyeing up the Irish and European markets.
Building awareness of the market opportunities in both directions is a crucial first step.
Is the future bright for Irish companies operating in or exporting to Canada?
The future is very bright for Irish companies looking for market access into Canada. Alberta has a strong focus on market diversification and a history of successful partnerships with many countries around the globe.
The Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement, direct flights and a vibrant province that is ‘open for business’ all work together to create a solid foundation for opportunities in multiple sectors.
Alberta opens the doors to Canadian, American and Asian markets.
Anything else you would like to mention…
The time has never been better for Irish and Alberta businesses looking for new markets. Businesses and visitors alike will find a world of opportunity, an affordable business climate, young and educated workforce and a warm welcome in Alberta.
Image from left to right: Kate Hickey, Deirdre Giblin, Gerry Mongey, and Suzanne Drisdell
The ICBA recently presented Gerry Mongey with an honorary lifetime membership as she retired from her role as Trade Commissioner at the Canadian Embassy in Dublin. Here is the tribute paid to her on the evening.
The growth of Ireland’s relationship with Canada in tourism trade and in terms of the sheer number of young Irish people who leave Ireland every year to work in Canada is one of the great success stories in international relations. It encompasses the recent appointment of an Honorary Consul in Vancouver and the fact that five airlines now direct flights between Ireland and Canada. But it also but goes beyond this, spanning a wide range of areas from education, government, innovation, business to culture and tourism.
While many individuals and bodies can take credit for this great success, in both Canada and Ireland, it is widely recognised that one individual stands out. This individual’s contribution can be traced back to one morning in February in 1981 when a young Gerry walked in to the Embassy offices. Gerry Mongey is often described as the central ‘common thread’ in the success of Ireland Canada. For the last 38 years and 8 months she has nurtured the relationship and has steered and guided many who came to work on the relationship down the years.
Gerry has worked with many ambassadors and trade commissioners in promoting Canada in Ireland. She has helped literally hundreds and hundreds of Canadian companies come into the Irish market to become established and employ many Irish people. She has lead trade mission after trade mission and brought Irish journalist’s and industry experts to conferences in Canada to witness best practice. As a tribute to Gerry’s outstanding contribution Gerry received a letter from PM Justin Trudeau upon her retirement last week.
Steve Jobs said “Choose to do something you love if not keep looking”. It is fair to say that Gerry’s love of her job made her a joy to work with. Her enthusiasm for Canada is infectious and her professionalism always impressed.
In today’s roller-coaster world, the terms ‘champion and visionary’ are often mis-used and over-used. In the case of Gerry Mongey, they are completely apt. Since 1981 Gerry has more than delivered on her job in international business development. For Ireland and Canada over the last four decades a great gift has been bestowed, providing inspiration and models for many others in Canada and Ireland.’
Kate Hickey, Executive Director, Ireland Canada Business Association (ICBA)
A delegation of the Ireland Canada Business Association (ICBA) recently returned from a high-level business mission to Canada. The mission coincided with a meeting in Paris between Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, where Brexit, Northern Ireland and CETA were discussed.
Ireland and Canada already enjoy close bilateral business connections and the purpose of the ICBA mission was to further strengthen those ties and capitalise on the opportunities that Brexit, CETA, and NAFTA renegotiations present.
The ICBA mission revealed that Canada’s business and political leaders firmly believe in the vast potential of the Canada / Ireland relationship. With further efforts on a governmental level, a number of opportunities can be capitalised upon. They include:
- Canada’s desire to do more business with Ireland
Meetings held with the Board of Trade in Toronto and Quebec trade development agencies highlighted the attractiveness of the Irish market for Canadian businesses looking to export beyond the US. There is an opportunity for Ireland to showcase its attractive business environment across Canada, focusing on the country’s talented workforce, open economy and ease of doing business. With the continued efforts of the ICBA, IDA, Ambassador Jim Kelly, and Tánaiste Simon Coveney in highlighting what we have to offer, Ireland will become a real contender for Canadian investment this side of the world.
- Canada is looking for direct investment from Ireland
Roundtable meetings held with investment agencies in Ontario and Quebec confirmed that these provinces wanted strongly to promote themselves as a location for Irish direct investment. Irish and Canadian business cultures are very closely aligned and both share a legacy of common law. Meetings with Ontario Attorney General Caroline Mulroney confirmed that this shared legacy is an important aspect of the Ireland Canada story. In fact, Ireland remains the last common law English-speaking country which is a member of the European Union.
- The changing Canada / US trade relationship presents Ireland with a big opportunity
Canada urgently needs to diversify trade beyond the United States and increase links to other market economies. For a long time, being right beside the US - the biggest, richest market in the world — has allowed Canadian companies export with ease. The experience of renegotiating NAFTA into USMCA has highlighted Canada’s vulnerability to a dominant trading partner that buys approximately 75% of Canadian exports. Only Kuwait, Bermuda, and Mexico have a higher geographic concentration of exports than Canada. When compared to countries where there are similar dependence issues such as Ireland & UK, Hong Kong & China, and New Zealand & Australia, Canada’s exports are much more concentrated. As a result of these factors, the delegation heard from well-placed sources that Canada is very open to increasing trade with Ireland and to using Ireland as a stepping stone for the wider EU market.
- Toronto Financial International (TFI)– a potential ally
TFI is a public-private partnership between Canada’s three levels of government, the financial services sector and academia with a mission to drive the competitiveness and growth of Toronto’s financial sector. Currently Toronto is the 2nd largest financial centre in North America. Aligning financial activities with a transition to a smart economy is a key concern for TFI and also for the Irish Government. Currently, the organisation is looking for international cooperation in the areas of Fintech and sustainable finance. Ireland, with its thriving international financial sector and a shared common law legacy with Canada, is very well placed to be a partner. There exists the opportunity to replicate the role of the Canadian financial sector in supporting actions that address climate change and collaborating with TFI.
The Ireland Canada Business Association strongly believes in the potential that lies in the economic and political relationships between our two nations. Already we have seen the number of jobs created by Canadian companies in Ireland grow by over 40% since 2014, and almost double-digit growth in the value of exports from Ireland to Canada. With Brexit strengthening Ireland’s position as a natural gateway to Europe for multinationals, boosted by the recent opening of an IDA office in Toronto, the opportunity is sizeable.
The ICBA’s recent business mission has confirmed that Canada’s industry and political leaders share our belief in the Ireland Canada relationship, and can clearly see ways to further strengthen it. We call on the government to continue to build on the great work it is doing in this regard, so that Ireland can make the very most of the opportunity currently presented.