FDI in Ireland weathered the storm of the pandemic

6 Jan 2021

Image: © Marco Martins/Stock.adobe.com

Investment in Ireland remained strong during the pandemic but Covid-19’s impact will still be felt in the coming year.

Foreign direct investment held up in Ireland last year despite the impact of Covid-19 according to IDA Ireland’s annual report for 2020.

There were 246 new investments in Ireland in 2020, 95 of which were from new companies, and 20,123 jobs created.

However there were job losses too with net job creation in 2020 at 8,944 compared to nearly 14,000 in 2019.

The lion’s share of investor companies was from North America with European firms coming in second. According to an IDA employment survey, the information and communication services sector continues to employ more than any other sector identified.

Some of last year’s banner investment announcements were from Amazon, TikTok and Mastercard.

Martin Shanahan, chief executive of IDA Ireland, said it was encouraging that Ireland was still able to attract investment in “a year of unprecedented disruption”.

New nationwide strategy for IDA

2020 marked the end of IDA Ireland’s last multi-year strategy with its 2021-2024 programme kicking off this month. This new strategy will face a unique set of challenges as Covid-19 is expected to have a continued effect on the flow of FDI in 2021.

Shanahan said the new strategy has been designed in conjunction with the Government’s National Economic Plan.

“The targets included in the strategy are ambitious and success will not be easy, nor is it guaranteed in such an uncertain global environment,” Shanahan said.

The agency will be hampered by its inability to carry out site visits for prospective clients or to travel for meetings. Uncertainties and questions over Brexit also lingered in the background throughout 2020, which will start to bear out now that there is a deal in place.

“As a small open economy, we need both our indigenous and FDI sectors to be strong and built on solid foundations,” Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar said.

The new strategy for 2021-2024 is aiming to secure 800 investments and 50,000 new jobs created with half those investments to be targeted at the regions.

“Around half of all investment made by FDI companies this year went to counties outside of Dublin. We will continue to seek out opportunities for all parts of the country, not just our major cities and towns,” Varadkar said.

The IDA has repeatedly said it is focused on attracting investors to cities and towns other than Dublin, though the capital is still the primary destination for many larger FDI deals.

Today Genesys announced 100 new jobs in Galway while Logitech announced 50 jobs in Cork earlier this week.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin