Improving Ireland’s competitiveness and ensuring Ireland is an attractive location to do business is a key economic priority for this Government.
By highlighting the competitiveness challenges that the economy faces and identifying the actions to address those issues within our control, the National Competitiveness Council makes a valuable contribution in this regard, and I welcome the Council’s most recent report, Ireland’s Competitiveness Challenge 2018 .
In this report, the NCC’s message is clear. While Ireland’s overall competitiveness performance remains positive, as the risks to Ireland’s prosperity are increasing, there can be no room for complacency. The threats posed by Brexit, and the evolving global trading and tax landscape, mean we must enhance our competitiveness position and make the economy resilient to withstand external shocks.
I share the Council’s view that to further improve competitiveness, we need sustainable public finances, continued investment in infrastructure, and the talent to drive innovation and productivity across all sectors of the economy.
Moreover, several initiatives are in train across Government to enhance our competitiveness performance, including:
- The review of SME policy designed to assess the SME business ecosystem and the range of supports offered to SMEs undertaken by my Department in conjunction with the OECD;
- The development of an Industry 4.0 strategy to respond to the challenges and opportunities arising from the impact of digital technologies;
- The development of sectoral strategies for Enterprise Ireland’s client base;
- The Future Growth Loan Scheme that will allow businesses to borrow for up to 10 years to support capital investment and enhance their competitiveness.
My Department and the Department of the Taoiseach are also preparing the Future Jobs Programme, a cross-government initiative with a strong focus on improving productivity, that will be published in February. This initiative will propose concrete and ambitious actions to enhance our productivity and competitiveness and will ensure that we are well positioned to adapt to transformational changes the economy will face in the years ahead.
Alongside the Competitiveness Challenge, the NCC have made a submission to the Future Jobs initiative that highlights key actions for the Government. We will reflect on the findings of the Competitiveness Challenge – and the contents of the NCC’s submission - as the Future Jobs initiative is finalised.