Irish Exporters Association welcomes €116bn ‘Project Ireland 2040’

Dublin, 16th February 2017: The Irish Exporters Association (IEA), the highly progressive and influential independent representative body for all Irish exporters and internationally trading companies, welcomes the launch of the ‘Project Ireland 2040’ plan by An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar at IT Sligo today.

‘Project Ireland 2040’ comprises of the National Planning Framework which sets out a spatial strategy for Ireland which will be backed by the National Development Plan. Together these make up the Government’s vision for how to reshape Ireland over the next two decades and outline significant infrastructural spending in transport, health, education, housing and measures to tackle climate change.

Simon McKeever, Chief Executive of the Irish Exporters Association commented: “Ireland is the fastest growing economy in the EU and figures released this week from the CSO show that our exports are thriving. Irish export figures for 2017 were the highest on record, up 2% on last year. Our largest increases were in medical and pharmaceutical products which increased 17% and food and live animals which were up 12%. We today welcome the launch of ‘Project Ireland 2040’ with the hope that the ambitious targets set out in this plan will be achieved and provide all citizens of Ireland the opportunity to maximise on the country’s potential with a balance of growth across the country.

The Irish Exporters Association lobbied Government on the development of the National Planning Framework particularly in the areas of: Brexit; regional road connectivity; international connectivity in ports and airports; multimodal transport; and broadband.

The importance of intra-regional connectivity and the pressure that lack of key transport networks puts on regional business cannot be underestimated. More effective intra-regional transport connectivity would extend labour catchment areas which would benefit both employers and employees, especially given the current skills shortage. Regional development of the full country is imperative not only to maintain business but to attract investment and development in every region. This will not only encourage and grow indigenous Irish business but grow investment and pragmatically encourage FDI throughout the country. Investments need to be made strategically in the country to maintain long-term growth and sustainability. The plan to ‘Brexit-proof’ the country will need investment in major regional planning and infrastructural development in transport links including road, rail, air and sea ports.

The IEA particularly welcomed the ‘Project Ireland 2040’ announcements of:

  • €2 billion Urban Regeneration and Development fund which will hopefully maintain sustainable growth in Ireland’s five cities and other large urban centres and the establishment of the National Regeneration Agency
  • €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund to support growth in towns, villages and outlying rural areas
  • Enhancement of regional accessibility, linking regions to urban areas including the delivery of the Atlantic Corridor linking Cork, Limerick, Galway and Sligo
  • Investment in equal balance of growth between three distinct areas of the country: Northern and Western; Southern; and Eastern and Midlands to ensure growth and investment reaches all corners of the country, not just concentrated in Dublin
  • Delivery of the National Broadband Strategy to ensure fast, secure, high capacity and reliable digital connectivity, although how this will be delivered remains to be seen
  • Focus on international connectivity including a new runway for Dublin Airport, continued development of Cork and Shannon Airports, investment in Ireland West Airport Knock, and for smaller airports under the Regional Airports Programme, major development of Dublin, Cork, Shannon-Foynes and other ports, as well as investment in transport connectivity to ports
  • Investments in enterprise, innovation and skills programmes

The IEA look forward to engaging with Government over the coming months and years and supporting the Irish export industry in the roll-out of these plans.”