Brexit will attract investors to Ireland, says Canadian business leader

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

Canada presents a significant opportunity for the Irish economy – ICBA

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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Interview with Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton

ICBA meets Richard Bruton

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton, recently spent a number of days in Canada as part of the Government’s 2019 St Patrick’s Day Programme.

The agenda was a mix of culture, business and politics, taking in visits to significant historical sites like Ireland Park, and meetings with political figures like Omar Alghabra, MP and Environment and Climate Change Minister, Catherine McKenna. The Minister also switched on the green lights at Niagara Falls for St Patrick’s Day.

Minister Bruton sat down with the ICBA on his return and spoke in detail about the visit in a ten-minute interview which you can listen to below.

 

We’ve also pulled out some of the highlights which you will find below in lightly-transcribed excerpts.

Meeting Omar Alghabra MP, Parliamentary Secretary to Canada’s Minister of International Trade Diversification

Omar Alghabra

Omar Alghabra MP, Parliamentary Secretary to Canada’s Minister of International Trade Diversification

Canada is faced with a very similar challenge as Ireland post-Brexit. We see our largest neighbour possibly putting significant trade barriers in our way. Canada has suddenly realised also that it's 75 percent dependent on the US market and that it's not a market that is quite as guaranteed as it was. So, it was very interesting to exchange thoughts on what Canada is doing with its trade commission to support Canadian businesses internationalizing.

We had meetings with a number of Irish companies there, the common thread was Data Analytics and Financial Technologies and they had developed very good opportunities in Canada solving key problems for Canadian companies. So, it was very interesting to see that on both sides you’re seeing the evolution of new ideas, innovative companies spreading their wings by trading in one another’s markets. At a time when a lot of people talk about protectionism, it’s really exciting to see companies carving out a niche and diversifying and benefiting, and mutual gain - a win-win situation.

Encouraging further Canadian investment in Ireland

There's been a huge expansion in recent years of Canadian investment in Ireland, and it's something that we want to encourage. I attended a business breakfast where very high on the agenda was the changing relationship as a result of Britain exiting the European Union and Ireland being the last common law English-speaking country which is a member of the European Union, and there's no doubt that people in Canada will be looking at Ireland in a fresh light in that respect. So, we have forty very important IDA investors already who have invested in Ireland and we would like to see others follow.

Meeting with Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna – carbon taxes and rebates

Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

It was very interesting to get an insight into what Canada is doing [in the area of Carbon taxes] - they have been pioneers of the idea that we should have a carbon tax with the money refunded. They are proposing that ninety percent of the revenue raised would be returned in a dividend and ten percent would be used for climate action. So, it is very much the idea that the purpose of a carbon tax isn't to raise funds but rather to encourage people to switch the way they behave in their own home and move away from high-carbon ways of living.

They've run into some difficulties because Canada has very independent-minded provinces, and so the relationship between a federal initiative and implementation in the provinces can be fraught. So, there is some pushback in some provinces against these measures and that is a very significant challenge that it is being worked through. I’m not going to comment on domestic politics in Canada, but it does show that anything in this area is a challenge because you're trying to encourage people to change the way they're used to living. And in significant states with either a significant shift in the political climate are indeed very strong interests in oil or the like, that poses greater problems.

They also are looking at this concept of transition and how they would manage, and have been managing, particular sectors that are very badly affected by transition. So, for example, they have committed in some provinces to get out of coal altogether and that obviously has had an impact on some traditional coal mining and coal-dependent areas. So, it was again interesting to see what they're doing in that area.

What can Ireland learn about implementing or increasing carbon taxes from the Canadian model?  

I think the dividend idea is one that is very attractive. The idea that it's clear to the public that when you're raising a tax it isn't a question of trying to raise revenue or putting barriers in the way of people, it's trying to change behaviour for the long term. So, if you receive a cheque in the post, as they are proposing, then that makes it easier for people to accept that this is a good measure.

I think always the problem in relation to climate is people, at a certain part of their brain, accept that it's a good thing, but to make it possible for them to move on from that, to switch to an electric vehicle or to insulate their home or to change to a heat pump, these things are harder steps and so it is important that you get momentum and get citizens engaged. And I think changing the way the tax is perceived is a really important part of that.

Minister Bruton switched on the green lights at Niagara Falls for St Patrick’s Day

Minister Bruton switched on the green lights at Niagara Falls for St Patrick’s Day

How the Irish government is helping Canadian multinationals to grow  

What Ireland did after the crash was rebuild our economy based on enterprise, innovation, and exporting, and that was founded on a very competitive base. And while, yes, as we approach fuller employment there are some pressure points, we currently have the highest productivity growth in Europe, and we're seeing companies do really well competing in the export markets.

The Government is acutely conscious of the need to improve our skill base. We are already the country with the highest third level participation, the highest number of graduates in STEM subjects, we have a very good regime for people who want to take workers in either from the rest of Europe or indeed from further afield to meet a particular skills shortage. So, we have equipped our economy to be sensitive to the needs of international investors both on the skills front and on the tax front, and we are very competitive in many ways.

We have just published a €120bn infrastructural plan where we're planning to roll out the infrastructures that will sustain the progress we're making, and we've identified key areas where there is tightness - housing being a major one, transport of course, and other social areas like health and education. So, I think we have a very strong strategy to continue to be an internationally competitive country, the government is acutely conscious of the needs of multinationals who are trading partners for us and we want to encourage that growth.

For more regular insights and presentations from political, diplomatic and business leaders visit the ICBA soundcloud page and subscribe to our newsletter below.

 

Minister Heather Humphreys speaks at ICBA Trade Briefing

The Ireland-Canada relationship is one that I know the ICBA works hard at fostering and supporting through your membership and events such as today’s.

ICBA also collaborates with a wide range of key stakeholders, such as the Chamber network in Canada, and indeed with the agencies under the remit of my Department, such as Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland.

As Minister, my department and agencies are supportive of the activities of the Association and applaud your ongoing efforts to build partnerships between the vibrant business communities in Ireland and Canada.

Read the full speech

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Minister Eoghan Murphy promotes Ireland-Canada trade and cultural ties in his St Patrick’s Day programme

Today (15-March-2017) Eoghan Murphy TD, Minister of State at the Department of Finance and Department of Public Expenditure & Reform begins a programme of engagements in Toronto and Montreal.  Commenting on his programme he noted,

I look forward to advancing a relationship built on a shared commitment to open trade and multilateralism.  Our common language and legal tradition and strong cultural ties make Ireland the ideal gateway for Canadian business and investment into the European Union.

Annual trade between Ireland and Canada, the world’s 10th largest economy, exceeds €2.75 billion – a figure expected to increase by a further €250 million with the advent of the Canada-EU Trade Agreement (CETA).

Accordingly the Minister’s programme prioritises his Financial Services and Public Procurement portfolios.  This includes a bilateral with the Ontario Minister for Finance, several IDA Ireland meetings with significant Canadian financial services companies, and an Enterprise Ireland facilitated tour of Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District – considered one of the world’s largest SME innovation hubs. Regarding this trade element he commented,

The Canada-EU Agreement will support increased investment into Ireland and give Irish SMEs easier access to a sophisticated, hi-income market.  These are trade imperatives we must continue to act on in pursuit of a stable and prosperous future.  CETA also opens up the Canadian public procurement market which, in tandem with the Canadian Federal Government’s recently announced multi-billion infrastructure investment programme, offers a means for Irish companies to diversify into new markets.

The cultural programme reflects the past and present of Irish migration to Canada.  In Toronto, part of a province where one-in-six inhabitants claim Irish ethnic origin, the Minister will support the Ireland Park Foundation’s efforts to commemorate those Canadians who died caring for the thousands of Irish famine arrivals of the late 1840s.

He will also visit the Irish Canadian Immigration Centre, established to assist young Irish immigrants arriving in the wake of the International Financial Crisis – a figure that peaked at 14,000 per year during the recession.  Commenting on this Minister Murphy noted,

It is right to now highlight the rich tapestry of Irish migration to Canada. This shared heritage illustrates how migration can be a force that binds countries together as opposed to one that divides.

The Minister’s programme concludes in Montreal on Sunday (19-March-2017) where he will meet representatives of the Ireland-Canada Chamber of Commerce and Irish community organisations before joining the Mayor of Montreal – Grand Marshal of this year’s St Patrick’s Day Parade – in celebrating its 375 year history as the oldest parade in Canada.

Mary Mitchell O'Connor CETA

Job Creation Opportunities will arise following EU Canada Trade Agreement

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, looks forward to the new opportunities that will arise for trade and investment under the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) which is to come into effect this year. The Minister  met with the Ireland Canada Business Association on 18th January 2017.“This Agreement will provide opportunities for Irish companies already trading in Canada as well as a new market diversification opportunity for others. It will also provide opportunities for Ireland to both grow the operations of Canadian companies already in Ireland as well as attracting new Canadian companies to Ireland as a base for servicing the EU market.” In 2015, total exports from Ireland to Canada amounted to €2.3 Billion with over 400 Enterprise Ireland client companies currently exporting to Canada. Canadian companies operating in Ireland that are clients of IDA Ireland employ some 2,800 people across a range of sectors.

“It is my intention to undertake a trade mission to Canada in the near future and I have already asked IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland to intensify their efforts to attract further Canadian investment and support Irish companies seeking to enter the Canadian market or increase their existing business levels,” the Minister said.