I thank the committee for the opportunity to speak today. I am honoured to do so along with two esteemed Canadian diplomats. However, my experience is a little different from that of theirs. While I am indeed Canadian, I have also lived in Ireland since 2007. I witnessed the tail end of the boom and lived through the bust. I saw at first hand the challenges faced by many young families when jobs were lost and their homes went into negative equity and I would prefer never to see that again for this country. My wife is Irish, my two children are Irish, we own a home here and we have an Irish-managed pension. If that does not provide me with enough Irish street credibility, I should note that one of my paternal great-grandmothers was a Mellett from Mayo and one of my maternal great-grandmothers was a Daley from Sligo.
I am here in a voluntary capacity representing the Ireland Canada Business Association, ICBA, which is an Irish non-profit corporation founded in 1978. We represent 100 companies doing business between the two countries - the core of which are Canadian companies with operations here. It is an organisation that has doubled in size over the past six years in part because of CETA and in part because of Brexit.
It is the position of the ICBA that the immediate ratification of CETA is of great importance to Ireland's economy and that not to do so would be detrimental to its post-Covid recovery. Ireland and Canada enjoy an incredibly strong business and cultural relationship. A failure to ratify CETA could weaken this relationship in the first instance and make Ireland less attractive to Canadian investment in the second instance, not to mention investment from other countries. Fifteen other European Union member states have already ratified CETA, leaving Ireland in the position of now playing catch-up with its EU counterparts. We believe that based on the strong links between the two countries, as the member state that is closest geographically to Canada and the last English-speaking member of the EU, Ireland owes a duty of friendship to show leadership among EU member states and ratify this deal without haste.
The Ireland-Canada relationship benefits the country in two major ways - inward investment and exports. If members take away anything from my remarks today, it should be that the numbers do not lie. Canadian direct investment in Ireland stood at over €6.3 billion at the end of 2019. There are roughly 75 Canadian operational companies in Ireland, which employ approximately 15,000 people. It is estimated that of those 15,000 employees, 7,000 come from IDA Ireland companies in that IDA Ireland worked diligently to bring them here. As many as eight jobs are created in the wider economy for every ten created by IDA Ireland client companies, so based on that, those 7,000 jobs potentially support another 5,600 jobs, bringing the tally of inward investment jobs to around 20,000. Canadian investment does not only benefit Dublin. Regional investment is significant. It includes SOTI and Celestica in Galway, Greenfield Global in Laois, the Optel Group in Limerick and Vermilion in Mayo, as well as eSentire, Open Text and Irving Oil in Cork and many more. It is unlikely that there is any area of Ireland that does not benefit from the Ireland-Canadian relationship, including those areas represented by the members of this committee.
For over 30 years, IDA Ireland has worked consistently to create the Ireland Inc. brand, with enormous success. Not ratifying an important trade deal like CETA damages that hard-earned reputation and signals to other potential investors that perhaps Ireland is not as open to business as it once was.
That is only half the story. With regard to exports, over 600 Irish companies exporting to Canada support more than 25,000 jobs here. Apparently, wood for hockey sticks made in Sligo is exported to Canada. That should be welcome news to Deputy Harkin.
Since the provisional ratification of CETA, exports to Canada have grown by almost €1 billion and resulted in a 27% increase in goods exported. Last year alone, Ireland enjoyed a trade surplus of €1.7 billion with Canada, with €2.1 billion of Irish goods being exported to the country. There is no Irish or Canadian business person who, if making €1.7 billion more than his or her partner as the result of a provisional agreement, would not formalise that agreement. A point I would like to drive home is that this is a very good deal for Ireland, as it stands, as the agreement has been provisionally applied in the past five to six years.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce and IBEC represent a combined 200,000 businesses employing more than 10 million people and they also support CETA. At a time when we do not know the effect Brexit will have on the export relationship with our largest historical trading partner, Ireland needs to secure new export partners. CETA does that. At a time when the economy will be recovering from a global pandemic, winning international investment that will result in high-quality jobs has never been a greater priority. Indicating to the world that Ireland is still open for business, by ratifying a lucrative trade deal like CETA, will do just that. On behalf of the ICBA, I ask members to recommend the ratification of CETA to their colleagues in the Oireachtas without haste. I thank members. I am more than pleased to take any questions they may have.