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Minister Humphreys meets key US counterparts on trade and economy in Washington

Ms. Heather Humphreys TD, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation has held a series of key trade and economic meetings in Washington with US counterparts. 

Coming at a sensitive time internationally on trade, and against the background of ongoing consideration of steel and aluminium tariffs, the Minister met with US Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, and Deputy US Trade Representative, Jeff Gerrish, for political discussions on trade. The Minister also met Special Advisor to President Trump on Technology, Telecommunications & Cybersecurity, Gail Slater. Finally, the Minister had a briefing session with the President and CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce, as well as a Roundtable discussion with the Business Council of International Understanding.

The US is a key trading partner and source of inward investment for Ireland, but equally, substantial Irish investment supports some 100,000 jobs in the US. Given the strong economic and cultural ties, and the volume of mutual trade and investment, Ireland has a genuine interest in promoting constructive trade and economic relations with the US.

Following her meetings with Secretary Ross and Ambassador Gerrish, where the issue of bilateral trade relations between the US and Ireland, and the US and EU, were discussed, the Minister said: “Ireland’s goal is to promote deeper and more constructive trade relations between the EU and the US. The EU has argued strongly that an exemption from the proposed steel and aluminium tariffs should apply on a permanent basis to the EU as a whole. We are disappointed that the EU had not already been granted a permanent exemption, notwithstanding that a temporary exemption to 1st May was extended to 1st June to allow for further dialogue. Global overcapacity, which is driving problems for the US industry, is also a cause of concern for EU, which is eager to work jointly with the US to find solutions.”

While Ireland fully supports the EU’s preparations to respond to any imposition of tariffs, the Minister indicated her view that a long-term solution should be found through dialogue, negotiation and agreement, for example through the OECD Global Steel Forum.

The Minister also encouraged the exploration of the opportunities for deepening joint EU/US cooperation on trade, and to promote support for the WTO and the rules-based trading system. She said: “As a small, open, globally-trading economy with exports of more than €260 billion in goods and services in 2016, I want to reiterate Ireland’s desire to see adherence to the rules-based WTO system as a means of avoiding trade disputes, which so many experts and commentators have said do not produce winners and negatively impact growth and jobs”.

In her meetings with the US Administration and business leaders, the Minister took the opportunity to share the Irish Government’s views on the Brexit, the current state of negotiations and the measures the Government is taking to build resilience at national and firm level, through its focus on competitiveness, export diversification and innovation. The Minister concluded: “I am confident that Ireland will continue to be a successful investment location for US enterprise in Europe, as a committed member of the EU with access to the EU Single Market”.

Finally, with Special Advisor Slater, the Minister shared approaches to promoting innovation domestically and internationally, and the shared challenges in relation to fostering cybersecurity.

Ends

For further information contact Press Office, Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation: Phone: 01- 6312200; email: press.office@dbei.gov.ie.

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