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Region losing out on foreign investment

Employment in foreign-owned companies in the Mid-West has fallen by over 16 per cent over I the past five years, according to the American Chamber of Commerce Mid-West group.

Growing concern over the low level of international investment in the Mid-West had prompted the group to call for the region to be given greater priority by the Government and the IDA. Last year, this region received just one new investment, representing only 3 per cent of the State's total foreign direct investment.

Kieran MacSweeney, chairman of the group and chief executive of Avocent in Shannon, said that employment in FDI S companies in the Mid-West had dropped from 22,569 to 18,844 in the past five years, a drop of over 16%. He said there was an "urgent need" for the IDA to put priority focus into attracting new industry into the Mid-West. In particular, he stressed the need for speedy action on a number of key infrastructure projects in the region.

"The completion of the road network leading in to and between Limerick, Shannon, Ennis and Galway will provide a population and industrial base strong enough to compete with the East coast," he said.

He also called for the ring-fencing of funds to ensure the completion of critical infrastructure projects, such as the fourth river crossing and the new Limerick/ Shannon/ Galw ay dual carriageway within the transition period for the Shannon Stopover.

"Supporting Shannon International Airport with world class road and rail networks will provide for a more balanced growth and development of the region, in line with the Government's own national spatial strategy", he said.

With more than 59 American Chamber of Commerce companies employing some 11,000 people in the Mid West, Mr MacSweeney said that the region needed to continue to support its existing base of US companies particularly in the area of cost containment.

"Our costs are higher than other European countries, and the reality is that we are unlikely to return to a situation where we can produce goods at a lower cost than our Eastern European or Asian counterparts."

"We cannot compete on costs, but we can win new investment by playing to our strengths. We have one of the best performing and most stable economies in Europe with a very competitive tax regime."

"Continued productivity gains will help address labour cost issues," he said.


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