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Remarks by the Taoiseach Mr. Brian Cowen, T.D. at the launch of the Green IFSC initiative At the meeting of the Clearing House Group in Government Buildings 27th January, 2011, at 9.30am

 

I am delighted to be here today to launch the Green International Financial Services Centre initiative.

Since the IFSC was first conceived in 1987, its success has been built on close cooperation between the industry and the public sector.  The IFSC Clearing House Group based in my Department, has been a driving force behind the success of the international financial services industry here.

The IFSC was established in 1987 to attract investment into Ireland from global financial services organisations, with goals to regenerate the docklands area of Dublin, to create employment, and to generate tax revenue. It has achieved and far exceeded those ambitions.

Since 1987, the IFSC has grown from an urban regeneration project into a world-leading financial centre. The recent Financial Services Ireland report shows that as the IFSC approaches its 25th anniversary, it employs almost 33,000 people, constitutes 7.4% of GDP and last year contributed €2.1bn to the Exchequer.

The resilience of international financial services in an unprecedented global environment is evidence both of the sustainability of the business being done here, and the quality of the staff doing it. Ireland has built an industry that is both diverse in the activities it carries out and enjoys a world class reputation. We should be justifiably proud of its success.

Irish-owned companies now employ over 10,000 people in financial services export activities. In areas such as fund administration and asset financing Ireland is a world-leader.  With growth opportunities across banking, funds and insurance and into niche areas, the IFSC will continue to grow and succeed – with innovation and product development at the core of the IFSC’s unique future proposition.

As in any sector, successful IFSC companies are constantly innovating and reinventing themselves. This Green IFSC initiative is a demonstration of how research, development and innovation are not just about technical processes, but are about building new business.

The potential of the green economy is widely acknowledged. Its is one of the five pillars set out in Building Ireland’s Smart Economy – the Government’s Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal.

This Government has been highly active in identifying and pursuing opportunities for Ireland in green enterprise and clean technology.   The potential of the green finance sector to contribute to Ireland’s economic development was strongly identified in that process.  The initiative I am announcing today positions us to gain first-mover advantage for Ireland. Central to the growth in the global green economy is the fast- growing carbon market which is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2020. Revenues from the management of carbon are anticipated to grow to $20bn in the same period.

Green financial services has the potential to create at least 7,000 highly-skilled jobs over the next 5 years. It is our intention to ensure that Ireland has a pivotal role to play in what has been described as the most important market of the 21st century.

The Green IFSC Steering Group has identified an opportunity for Ireland to play a key role in this market by building on existing IFSC strengths.

I am delighted therefore to announce here this morning the decision of the Government to target green financial services as a means of generating high value employment and revenue growth

The Government has agreed, to provide seed funding of €6.8m over three years to develop the concept.   The first step is the preparation by the Enterprise Agencies – IDA and Enterprise Ireland – working in partnership with the Green IFSC Steering Group, of a detailed business plan for approval by the Government.  This work will be carried out under the aegis of the IFSC Clearing House Group.

By supporting the establishment of the ‘Green IFSC’, Ireland is positioning itself as leading financial services centre for the management of carbon and green finance, including the establishment of a government supported International Carbon Standard (ICS) and associated Dublin International Voluntary Offset Registry (DIVOR). This initiative will help to maintain the competitive advantage of the IFSC and has the potential to support significant employment creation in this emerging sector.

There are considerable opportunities globally in green finance, carbon management and the growth of the green economy. We already have the template through the IFSC in how to position ourselves as world leaders in this area. If we marry the skills we already have, and support them with appropriate enabling policies, we can position ourselves as a country of choice for green financial services.

We proved in the past with the IFSC that a successful partnership between Government and business can successfully provide world-class international financial services. Today there are nearly 12,000 people employed in Ireland’s international funds servicing sector. We can repeat that success by developing a green financial services centre which will place Ireland at the forefront of a growing demand for such services in the coming decades.

This exciting initiative shows that international financial services has a bright future in this country.  There are great opportunities in green financial services to build on the success of the IFSC and create new businesses and jobs here in Ireland.

I would like to acknowledge the commitment of the Green IFSC Steering Group who worked to bring this initiative forward, particularly the members of the group who are represented here today by the Chair, David Guest, and from its membership, Stephen Nolan, Paul Harris and Joe Harford and the representatives of IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, Kieran Donoghue, Kevin Sherry and Joe Breslin.

I would also like to convey my thanks to Padraig Rushe the Chair of the IFSC Banking & Treasury Group for his commitment and assistance with this project.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the contribution to the IFSC of George Shaw of my own Department.   George is retiring shortly and I would like to thank him for his work and to wish him well.

Conclusion

 

Since I became Taoiseach I have prioritised measures to position Ireland as:

-         the best place in Europe to turn research and knowledge into products and services;

-         the best place in Europe to start and grow an innovative company;

-         the best place to relocate or expand and scale an SME; and,

-         the best place in Europe for research-intensive multinationals to collaborate with each other and with clusters of small companies.

This is ambitious, but achievable. 

 

And there are still plenty of reasons for confidence in Ireland’s future, our potential and what we can achieve over the coming years.

Ireland’s economy retains very significant strengths and we are building on those strengths.

The announcement today of Government support for the establishment of the Green IFSC sends a clear message – Ireland remains open for business.

Thank you

ENDS