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Official says Ireland wants more trade with West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - There are lots of opportunities for economic tie-ups between West Virginia and Ireland, said Peter Ryan, deputy consul general for economic and public affairs in Ireland's New York City office.

Ryan was in Charleston Thursday "to touch base with the local Irish community here and thank them for everything they do to promote good relations; and to brief some of the business and political leaders in the city and state."

Fifteen percent of West Virginia's population claims Irish ancestry, Ryan said.

The economies of West Virginia and Ireland are about the same size, he said.

Ireland suffered a collapse of its banking sector in 2008. It took a 6.75 billion euro bailout from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. The government is entering its sixth year of austerity budgets.

"There are a lot of negative stories coming out of Europe," Ryan said. "But the fact is, the story is quite complex. We have structurally refunded our banks and we have had some success in rebuilding our economic prosperity.

"The U.S. investment into Ireland, cumulative, is about $190 billion," he said. "That's more than the U.S. investment in Brazil, Russia and China, combined."

Although Ireland has only 1 percent of Europe's population, it has developed a powerful export economy by successfully positioning itself as the gateway to the European Union countries and it has substantial economic ties to the Persian Gulf and Asia.

"This is a two-way exercise," Ryan said. "We're a very small, open economy. We need free trade and investment. We have 68 tax treaties. We're absolutely transparent around tax and the incentives we offer overseas companies.

"I think there are 500 American companies employing 80,000 to 100,000 people in Ireland. We have 250 Irish companies who employ 100,000 Americans in America."

Ryan said Dell, Twitter, and many other U.S. companies have large operations in Ireland. "Why is that? English helps. Technology helps. The track record helps. And the tax rates help. If you and I opened a company in Ireland tomorrow we would get the same 12.5 percent corporate tax rate Google gets."

Pointing to a Dell laptop computer, Ryan said the company now employs more people in Ireland than it did when it manufactured computers on the Emerald Isle. (Dell moved its manufacturing operation to Poland several years ago).

"The software is made by an Irish company banked in Ireland, the software is packaged on a machine in Ireland; the tech support comes from Ireland; the chip is made by Intel at Kildare; the product is researched in Ireland; and if you go on Facebook and Google, it'll be coming out of Ireland.

"I also think there are a lot of good things coming from here that the Irish should hear of," Ryan said. "We believe there's opportunity. We're interested in building global businesses.

"Last year was the second-biggest ever for U.S. investment in Ireland," he said. "We think there are great opportunities here to build on business links between West Virginia and Ireland, build on the traditions we share. We have a unique relationship in so many respects. We are the 13th-largest overseas investor in the USA. This, at a time when our banks have sold everything they had. We'll be back again!"

The Consulate General of Ireland's office in New York City is online at More information about Ryan is posted on LinkedIn. Go to and type "Irish diplomat Peter Ryan" in the people search box.

Contact writer George Hohmann at or 304-348-4836.



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