Improving Ireland’s competitiveness is a key priority for this Government. We are working hard to consolidate this country's traditional strengths in terms of talent, productivity and export competitiveness.
The reduction in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the report that the Deputy is referring to concerns the movement of cash assets following the enactment of the US Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in late 2017. While it is likely that US Firms have repatriated large amounts of cash and cash equivalents, there has been no discernible impact on the real operations of the foreign affiliates of US multinationals based here in terms of employment and value added from these repatriations.
Ireland’s overall competitiveness performance remains positive. The World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report 2018, published on 17 October 2018, ranks Ireland as the 23rd most competitive economy out of 140 countries. Ireland maintains its global competitiveness position from last year and continues to be the 8th most competitive economy in the Euro area and the 11th most competitive economy in the European Union. The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report currently ranks Ireland as the 17th most competitive out of 190 economies.
It is important to remember that a real indication of Ireland’s competitiveness is our ongoing strong employment growth across sectors and regions. In this regard, the impressive performance of clients supported by the enterprise agencies in winning exports, market share and job creation in the face of intense global competition is to be commended. The IDA has also made significant progress in diversifying their portfolio of client companies that invest here. There were, for example, 111 new name investments in 2017, an increase of 12% compared to 2016 which saw 99 new name investments. These figures reflect the competitiveness of the environment in which to do business in Ireland.
The Government is nevertheless conscious of the need to remain as competitive as possible. It is therefore taking steps to ensure the economy is resilient to deal with competitiveness challenges and to build further on the progress that has been made. IDA Ireland, for its part, builds relationships with investors in order to aid their understanding of Ireland's enterprise environment and provide them with the assistance needed to overcome administrative obstacles. The Agency also maintains a direct relationship with investors and provides assistance as companies grow and diversify their Irish operations.