OLDEST IRISH AMERICAN NEWSPAPER IN USA, ESTABLISHED IN 1928
Category: Archive

Businessbriefs U.S.-Irish trade gets Viagra boost

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Harry Keaney

The drug Viagra has done more than pep up the sex lives of men around the world; it has also boosted the business relationship between Ireland and Uncle Sam. In fact, thanks in part to sales of the drug, the U.S. has now overtaken Britain as the Republic of Ireland’s most important trading partner.

Exports from Ireland to the U.S. in the eight months to August topped £8 billion, an increase of 60 percent over the previous year, according to figures released last week by Ireland’s central statistics office.

The biggest increase in Irish exports to countries outside of the European Union, including the U.S., was in the organic chemicals sector. One of Ireland’s largest chemical operations is the Pfizer plant in Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork, from where product for the manufacture of Viagra is exported.

Millionaire club

Ireland’s biggest-ever sponsorship deal has been agreed between Eircell, the mobile phone subsidiary of Eircom, and RTE, the state broadcasting company. And, appropriately perhaps, the deal, worth £7 million, is for the Irish version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire."

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

Host of the Irish show is the veteran broadcaster Gay Byrne.

Eircell’s sponsorship comes as a third mobile phone company, Meteor, is preparing to enter the Irish market.

Nervous Tiger

Irish economist David McWilliams has been credited with inventing the phrase "Celtic Tiger," the name having come from the then booming "Asian Tiger" economies. Now, however, McWilliams says the Celtic Tiger may, in the not too distant future, face the fate of those Asian economies, an example being a Hong Kong-style property collapse. According to McWilliams, property prices fell 60 percent in the Hong Kong recession despite strong underlying demand in an area with five million people. He believes that Ireland is showing signs of that bubble, with labor shortages, rocketing asset prices and high borrowing.

"Any economy that is borrowing at five times the European rate and four times the U.S. rate has got problems," McWilliams said.

IBO news

The Irish Business Organization of New York will host a midtown networking breakfast will take place on Oct. 24 at 8 a.m. in Mezze Restaurant, 44th Street, between Fifth and Madison. Details, Bill Buckley at (212) 627-2111.

Big oil

When the Chevron Corporation completes its acquisition of Texaco, in a $36 billion stock deal, an Irish America will be at the helm. He’s David O’Reilly, 53, who will be chairman and CEO of the combined company which will be the fourth largest oil company in the world.

Service, please

Hotels and restaurants in Ireland can’t get the staff they need. During the next five years, the business will need 145,000 new workers. In the coming weeks, representatives of the Irish Hotels Federation will travel to South Africa and Newfoundland in search of workers.

Zooming insurance costs

With road accidents in Ireland claiming the lives of hundreds of people every year — 10 people were killed during a recent weekend alone — one would expect that, at least, the country’s top law officer, the minister for justice, would set a good example. Last month, however, the minister’s Mercedes was found speeding through Kerry and although the minister, John O’Donoghue, was not in the car at the time, the matter has aroused the ire of the Irish insurance industry.

"I don’t think that is a great example to the rest of the country," John O’Hanlon, president of the Irish Insurance Federation, said. "It is a long way from his own philosophy of zero tolerance."

O’Hanlon said that Ireland is the third worst country in Europe in terms of the frequency of road accidents. And he has predicted that motor insurance premiums will rise by 6 percent this year. He added that they should rise by 10 to 12 percent to compensate for underwriting losses but competitive pressures would prevent that.

Dancin’ happily

Moya Doherty and John McColgan, the duo that created the phenomenally successful show "Riverdance," has won yet another award — this time for helping to promote Dublin as a tourist destination. Last year, more than four million people visited the capital city, spending £700 million.

"Riverdance" has been seen by millions around the world and, in the process, created unprecedented publicity for the Fair City.

Tax rates

Tax rates in Ireland have been coming down in recent years and more cuts are expected in the coming budget. However, the European Central Bank is not amused. Top ECB economist Manfred Kock said at the weekend that unsustainable cyclical differences between member states within the European Union — such as Irish inflation which is running at twice the European average — must be dealt with at the local level, in other words by each individual country rather than at EU level. However, individual member countries’ central banks no longer have the power to set interest rates; that role is now the responsibility for the ECB, which, like the Federal Reserve in the U.S., sets interest rates for the entire Euro area.

The ECB’s fear is that reduced tax rates in booming economies like Ireland’s will lead to more spending, thus adding to already increasing inflation.

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese