US Treasury's Yellen sees Ireland thriving as investment location

US Treasury's Yellen sees Ireland thriving as investment location
US Treasury's Yellen sees Ireland thriving as investment location

By Padraic Halpin

US treasury secretary Janet Yellen on Monday said Ireland will remain one of the best places in the world for multinational companies to invest in, even after Dublin gave up its prized 12.5 per cent corporate tax rate as part of a global overhaul.

Ms Yellen led the charge towards achieving a global minimum corporate tax rate of 15 per cent - endorsed by the leaders of the world's 20 biggest economies on Saturday - to end what she long described as a "race to the bottom" on corporate taxation.

Speaking in Ireland, where US companies such as Google, Apple and Facebook directly employ more than 180,000 people or around 8 per cent of the entire workforce, Ms Yellen said Ireland is "already winning this new race to the top with its robust business environment".

"Here is my honest assessment of what it will not do: It won't change this country's status as one of the best places to do business in the world," Ms Yellen told an event with the Irish heads of many of those companies, referring to the global tax deal.

"As I mentioned, there are hundreds of US companies with real roots in Ireland. Was the corporate tax rate one reason they came? I would have to imagine yes. But it was not the only reason, and it wasn't the reason they stayed, or the main reason they are here now."

Ms Yellen recalled how Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe told her during the negotiations that she could walk down the main shopping street in Dublin and any passer-by would likely be able to tell her what the corporate tax rate. That showed what a "touchstone issue" corporate tax is in Ireland, she said.

Asked if the United States cajoled Ireland into signing up to the deal, Ms Yellen said this was not the case.

"I really personally wouldn't use the word cajole. I think we had very productive meetings in which we have tried to understand the viewpoint of Ireland and its needs in terms of being able to sign onto this," she told a news conference.

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