Minister Flanagan to Host British & US Ambassadors at business networks' event in Iveagh House18 April 2016
Minister Flanagan to Host British Ambassador Chilcott and US Ambassador O’Malley at business networks' event in Iveagh House this evening
Debate to cover strategic issues facing Ireland, the UK and the US, including “Brexit”
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD, will this evening host British Ambassador Dominick Chilcott and US Ambassador Kevin O’Malley at a business event in Iveagh House. The event, hosted in conjunction with the British-Irish Chamber of Commerce (BICC) and the American Chamber of Commerce, Ireland (AMCHAM), will be an opportunity to explore current strategic issues being faced by the UK and the US.
150 members of the business community here in Ireland will be present.
Speaking ahead of the event, the Minister said:
“Britain and the United States are by far our two biggest trading partners. Tonight is a unique opportunity to hear from the two Ambassadors their own reflections on these trading and business partnerships and the strategic issues which face us all in the period ahead. I also look forward to hearing their thoughts, as well as those of Irish business leaders, on what we can do together to develop and grow the business links we enjoy”.
On the question of the UK referendum on EU membership on 23 June, the Minister will tell the audience:
"Among the strategic issues facing us today – and inevitably for discussion tonight– is the importance of UK membership of the European Union. This matter is a key strategic issue for Ireland. We see it here primarily in terms of close and multi-faceted Irish-British relationship and through the prism of Northern Ireland, but we also welcome the fact that the US administration speaks of its wish of a strong UK within a strong European Union.
"Our perspective as a friend, close neighbour and major trading partner is, I have been assured, welcome in the UK. At all times we recognise and respect that the choice to be made is one for the UK voters. But as a major partner, close friend and the only Member State to share a land border with the UK, we have particular concerns.
"As veterans of referendum campaigns, we know that good, clear information, public debate, and engagement by business and civil society is crucial in the debate.
"Our bilateral trade now amounts to over €1.2 billion per week and growing. Indeed, the already-strong profile of the BICC - after just five years in existence - is a testament to that vital trade relationship.
"Important reports are coming thick and fast on economic implications for the UK itself, for the wider world and for Ireland specifically, north and south. We all need to study these closely.
"Only today we’ve had the UK Treasury report stating baldly that the UK would be “permanently poorer” if it left the EU. Closer to home and to our important agri-food sector, we also have Teagasc’s analysis today that a UK exit would bring great uncertainty and – depending on its terms - a drop of between 1.4% and 8% in total Irish agri-food exports. Each of you here are no doubt studying closely the implications for your sectors should this happen.
"In my own consultations with Irish businesses here, it is clear to me that the high awareness of the potential impact of this EU referendum, no doubt in part a legacy of our own frequent engagement with EU referendums, means Irish business voices are important in this debate. People-to-people interactions happening daily between the UK and Ireland in a business context. Indeed, many of you will have those regular interactions yourselves.
"I know the people before me in this room tonight have influential voices and I urge you to use every opportunity to keep highlighting and debating this issue with your contacts, your customers, your relatives and friends.
"Our government’s position is clear: we want the UK to remain in the EU. We believe that a vote to remain is in the best interests of Ireland, the UK and the EU itself. Also, it is important to state that whatever the outcome, Ireland will remain a member of the EU and a member of the Eurozone.
"I have discussed Ireland’s perspective with my American and British counterparts whenever an opportunity has arisen. Recently, I met John Kerry in Washington and I regularly meet with Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, most recently at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London earlier this month.”
18 April 2016
Notes for Editors
• The British Irish Chamber of Commerce is the leading business group serving the interests of businesses with interests in Britain and Ireland http://www.britishirishchamber.com/
• Every week, over €1 billion of trade is conducted between Ireland and Britain. This trade sustains over 400,000 jobs directly, and many more indirectly.
• The American Chamber of Commerce, Ireland aims to keep Ireland the global location of choice for US companies. http://www.amcham.ie/
• In 2014, the United States was Ireland’s largest market for goods exports, consuming 22% of all goods exports. The US is also the source of €280billion in Foreign Direct Investment.