America’s Ambassador to Ireland has warned the Dublin government against any increase in the corporation tax rate as it may force US companies out of Ireland.
Dan Rooney made his comments as pressure mounts from France and Germany for a common corporate tax rate across Europe.
Rooney was speaking in Mullingar at the last of the open forums he has held all across the country in the wake of his appointment to the role by President Obama in 2009.
The French and Germans want a common tax policy before the end of 2012 but Rooney is adamant that Ireland must maintain its current 12.5 per cent rate to protect American investment.
“If the corporate tax is raised, then American companies will look at the situation and say, ‘Well it is too high for us,’” said Rooney
“Ireland needs to continue with its current rate of corporate tax and realize that it is in competition with other economies.”
Rooney went on to name Poland as a real competitor to Ireland in the foreign investment stakes.
Pointing out that EU pressure was challenging the Irish government on the issue, Rooney acknowledged that Finance Minister Michael Noonan and his colleagues were actively fighting Europe.
He added: “The US Government is very interested in what is happening but from our point of view everybody has to pay their taxes.
“Ireland remains an attractive place to do business. The population is English speakers with a good attitude who are friendly and intelligent and do the job.
The Ambassador also acknowledged the threat to 750 jobs at the Bank of America’s MBNA credit card facility in Carrick-on-Shannon and described the situation there as ‘unfortunate’.
He also highlighted three major improvements in Ireland since he first landed at Shannon in the 1970s - the roads, mobile phone infrastructure and the food.
“You have great chefs here now,” joked Rooney.