Ladies and Gentlemen,
ࠠࠠ쯳pan>I would like to thank you very much
for this opportunity to speak to you, the cream of Brazilian industry,
today.쯳pan>This is the first time that I
have been in
ࠠࠠ쯳pan>While there has been at least one significant Irish investment in Brazil - by the Kerry Group, an Irish food ingredients manufacturer - this trip has made me realise that there are enormous opportunities for cooperation between our two countries, and that we have a great deal of work to do to make Irish and Brazilian businesses aware of the advantages each has to offer the other, to begin to develop deeper understanding of our respective economies and societies.
ࠠࠠ쯳pan>I have to tell you that your
countrymen, and especially your President, have all been impressing upon me the
strength and advantages of
ࠠࠠ쯳pan>I think it is fair to say that we have revolutionized our economy since joining the EEC - which has evolved into todayŵropean Union - in 1973.쯳pan>Back then, we had a largely inefficient industrial base, with a strong dependence on agricultural production.쯳pan>Our outlook was insular, and we lacked the skills and the confidence to compete in the world economy.
ࠠࠠ쯳pan>Let me quote you some of the statistics to demonstrate the strength of our economy.
Irish GDP growth averaged 8.5% between 1994 and 1999, a
period in which the EU average growth was꼯span>2.3%; last year, GDP growth in
2. This growth has raised our per capita GDP from about two thirds of the EU average, where it languished throughout the seventies and most of the eighties, to over 100% of the average now.쯳pan>We expect our GNP per capita - a better indication of the wealth we retain for ourselves - to reach the EU average within the next three to four years.
In 1993, unemployment in
In the nineteen nineties, our exports more than quadrupled,
having trebled in the nineteen eighties.꼯span>
༯span>ࠠ࠼/span>In summary, itࡍ good time to be Irish.
༯span>ࠠ༯span>There are many reasons for our success, but Ike to focus on a few of them here.
First of all, education.쯳pan>We堡ll heard about the ledge
economyനe high-tech, high-value sectors which are so important.
We have an education system today which is free to all, from primary school right through to university.쯳pan>We have structured our system to make sure it is flexible enough and responsive enough to produce people who will be able to perform to the highest standards and we are in the process of making considerable capital investment in our educational facilities and of making substantial funding available for research in key sectors.
ࠠࠠࠠWithout the availability of a well-educated and well-trained work force, we could not have attracted the high levels of foreign investment which we have seen over the past twenty years.쯳pan>Equally importantly, our own companies would not have become as innovative and competitive as they are today if they had not been able to draw on a pool of highly skilled technology and business graduates.
ࠠࠠࠠSecondly, since 1987 we have enjoyed a consensual
partnership with the key economic players in
ࠠࠠࠠThis predictability has been good for us all.쯳pan>Businesses have been able to make long-term plans secure in the knowledge that they would not face unexpected wage or tax demands.쯳pan>Workers have benefited not only from steady increases in their income, but also from a steady reduction in the tax burden.
ࠠࠠࠠThis approach - which is now frequently cited as a model for small, open economies - has contributed hugely to the cost competitiveness of the contemporary Irish economy.
ࠠࠠࠠOver the years, the nature of the agreements and of the process itself has evolved, and today the discussions cover a range of issues of importance to all the economic actors in the State.쯳pan>The dialogue emerging from the partnership process on a range of social and economic issues will, I am certain, help to balance the requirements of society and economy so that we can continue to enjoy economic growth with the benefits of a consensual economic policy.
ࠠࠠࠠThirdly, membership of the European Union has been vital.쯳pan>Without the access to the European markets which EU membership has given us we would not have been as attractive a location for foreign investment.꼯span>Irish companies would have found it much more difficult to grow - after all, the Irish market is small, at under four million people.
ࠠࠠࠠBut the EU has helped us in other ways also.쯳pan>We have received substantial monetary transfers from the EU which enabled us to make much needed investment in infrastructure.쯳pan>While our economic success means that this flow of funds will be much reduced, the funds did make an important difference to us at a time when they were sorely needed.
ࠠࠠࠠI think that the EU has also given us something that튡 little less concrete, but just as important.꼯span>As I said, before we joined the EEC,
ࠠࠠࠠThe increased contact that we have had with our European neighbours has changed all that.튼/span>Our outlook is now far more open to the world.쯳pan>Our public services have begun to look to the longer-term, more strategic needs of the economy and society.쯳pan>
ࠠࠠࠠBut it is in the private sector that the change has
been greatest.쯳pan>Many Irish people have
participated in educational, cultural or other exchanges or in European
business fora, and they have taken an enhanced sense of self-belief from those
encounters, a sense that things can be done.꼯span>It is this confident outlook that has spurred
ࠠࠠࠠFinally, as I have mentioned, we have been highly
successful in attracting foreign investment to
ࠠࠠࠠTo give you an indication of how successful we have
ࠠࠠࠠBut at least as important as the investment itself has been how we have taken advantage of it.
ࠠࠠࠠThe managerial and other business standards of multi-national corporations are extremely high, and those standards have been transferred to Irish companies as managers have moved from the multi-nationals to Irish companies or indeed set up their own businesses.쯳pan>There is no doubt that this has given us a definite advantage in world markets.
ࠠࠠࠠIrish companies have also used the opportunity of the presence of so many major world companies to become key suppliers to them, working successfully to meet the high standards of quality, service and price that the multi-nationals demand.쯳pan>Many of those companies have used that experience to launch themselves onto international markets.
ࠠࠠࠠHaving said all that, I must, of course, sound a
little note of caution.쯳pan>Like everybody
else, we堬ooking carefully at what৯ing on in the
ࠠࠠࠠIn reality, it seems likely that the threat to continued economic growth which is most serious to us is the fact that our economy has grown so much more quickly than our infrastructure.쯳pan>Although we have made significant investments in infrastructure over the past decade, these will not be enough to sustain our growth into the medium term - the pressures are already very evident.
ࠠࠠࠠWith this in mind, we began work last year to implement a seven-year strategic plan - the National Development Plan - to upgrade our infrastructure, both physical and social.쯳pan>Over the coming years, up to 2006, we will spend ࠢillion - thatࡢout US$45 billion - to enhance our transport systems, our educational institutions, our training programmes, our housing stock, our electrical and telecommunications infrastructure and our environmental facilities.
ࠠࠠࠠThis is the largest programme of investment which we
have ever seen in
ࠠࠠࠠSo, as you can see, I come to
ࠠࠠࠠMany people are aware of the number of top technology
companies with significant operations in
ࠠࠠࠠOver the past ten years, there has been an average of
fifty new software companies established each year in
ࠠࠠࠠIrish software companies have become world leaders in
banking, telecommunications, software development tools and computer based
ࠠࠠࠠThe investment which we have made in broadband
ࠠࠠࠠOver the next two to three years, Irish software exports will become one of our top three exports, and are likely to be worth more than ten billion pounds, about twelve billion dollars, a year.쯳pan>Direct employment will double to forty thousand.
ࠠࠠࠠThe Irish software sector is highly innovative and places a great deal of emphasis on research and development, and as part of our National Development Plan we have put in place systems and finances to make sure that our rate of innovation is maintained and improved.쯳pan>This will help to keep Irish companies at the forefront of the ICT industry, anticipating developments in e-business, the growing sophistication of links with the telecommunications companies and the growth of the new digital media.
ࠠࠠࠠAnd yes, to answer the question I
know you堡sking yourselves, the Irish software industry does want to do
business with you in
ࠠࠠࠠOf course we, as a Government,
need to examine how we can best provide the supports and contacts necessary for
Irish companies to do business here.쯳pan>I was
very pleased to announce in my meeting with President Cardoso yesterday that
Over the coming years, I
am confident that your strong industrial sector will benefit from Irish
expertise and, indeed, that our companies will benefit from building their
contacts with you.쯳pan>I hope that the next
time I visit
23 July 2001: The Taoiseach visited