IDA Ireland is the agency with statutory responsibility for the attraction of foreign direct investment — FDI — to Ireland, including its regions and areas. In 2003, 32 greenfield and expansion job creation projects were announced by IDA Ireland. These projects have a projected total job content of nearly 5,600 jobs and were achieved against a background where there were fewer companies actively seeking to invest overseas and consequently less companies visiting Ireland.
As the ultimate decision regarding where to locate a project, including what areas to visit as potential locations are taken by overseas investors it is difficult to predict the exact number of IDA supported project announcements that might be made in 2004.
However, IDA Ireland is cautiously optimistic about the year ahead and believes it will be its best since 2000 in terms of jobs announcements, both for new investments into Ireland and growth in the value and scale of activities in overseas IDA-backed plants already operating here. This view is based on contacts with client companies and strong indications of a substantial recovery in growth in the global economy and consequent increased flows of FDI.
I too, am optimistic about the year ahead, particularly given the track record IDA Ireland has in attracting sustainable overseas investment to the country. Despite the recent global economic turndown, the level of foreign direct investment in Ireland, relative to the size of the economy, remains one of the highest in the world. For a long time, Ireland has received a far higher proportion of FDI inflows into the EU than our 1% of the population would suggest.
Vigorous pursuit by IDA of its main policy objectives is the best strategy to respond to the current challenging global environment and further increase opportunities for employment, not alone in IDA supported companies, but also across the wider economy. It is important to remember that FDI can also have knock-on benefits in other sectors such as supply, distribution and transport, thus creating further investment-employment opportunities for local people in the immediate vicinity and surrounding areas.
I am confident that the strategies and policies being pursued by IDA Ireland, together with the ongoing commitment of Government to regional development will continue to bear fruit in terms of delivering the maximum possible level of additional jobs.