July 20, 2017, 9:39 a.m.
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BREXIT, CHANGES IN US tax and trade policy and uncertain global growth are among the main risks facing Ireland’s competitiveness, a new report has warned.Ireland’s Competitiveness Scorecard for 2017 found that strong economic performance in recent years is masking the country’s vulnerability.The report from the National Competitiveness Council looks at Ireland’s competitiveness performance when compared to a number of other countries.It found improvements in the areas of economic growth, improved public finances, trade performance and the labour market.Exports continued to perform well as did Ireland’s traditional strengths such as the tax regime, having an educated workforce and being a business-friendly environment.However, despite these positives, the NCC said concerns needed to be addressed in a number of key areas.Among these were the potential for slower than projected growth in the UK and US markets as a result of Brexit and shifts in US policy.Speaking at the launch of the report, Professor Peter Clinch, chair of the council said that the country was at a “critical juncture” for ensuring the foundations of future competitiveness were in place.“We face major competitiveness challenges in developing the resilience of the enterprise
base particularly in light of Brexit, and ensuring the environment in which to do business remains competitive, particularly in terms of costs, skills availability, infrastructure capacity and productivity,” he said.The report found that trying to grow and improve Ireland’s infrastructure within the limits of EU budgetary guidelines was a challenge.It said that while Ireland’s improving competitiveness performance was positive, the sustainability of growth and improvements in living standards is “under serious and imminent threat” if the it did not work harder to improve the country’s standing in relation to other nations.