Doing business in Ireland | Investing in Ireland | FDI Ireland
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1 Introduction 3
2 Why Invest in Ireland? 5
3 Ireland: An Overview 7
4 Grants and Other Fiscal Incentives 10
5 Establishing in Ireland 12
6 Taxation 16
7 Employment and Labour Law 24
8 Real Estate, Planning and Environmental Law, Construction and Energy 28
9 Intellectual Property and Technology 32
10 Life Sciences Regulatory 36
11 How Can Matheson Help You? 40
Over 1,150 international companies have operations in Ireland. These companies are involved in a wide range of activities and sectors including technology, pharmaceuticals, biosciences, financial services and manufacturing. The attraction of Ireland as an investment location can be attributed to the positive approach of successive Irish Governments to the promotion of inward investment, its membership of the European Union (EU), a very favourable corporate tax rate and a skilled and flexible labour pool.
The purpose of this Guide is to provide an introduction to the major commercial and legal issues to be considered by international companies establishing business operations in Ireland and it provides general observations and guidance in relation to the many questions we have encountered from clients. Particular businesses or industries may be subject to additional legal requirements and specific advice may be required in these circumstances.
If you are considering Ireland as a location for your business we look forward to hearing from you.
Why Invest in Ireland?
6Why Invest in Ireland?
In 2014, Forbes ranked Ireland one of the best countries in the world for business. Ireland has succeeded in attracting some of the worlds largest companies to establish operations here. This includes some of the largest firms in the global technology, pharmaceutical, biosciences, manufacturing and financial services industries.
They are in Ireland because Ireland delivers:
low corporate tax rate corporation tax on trading profits is 12.5% and the regime does not breach EU or OECD harmful tax competition criteria;
regulatory, economic and people infrastructure of a highly-developed OECD jurisdiction;
benefits of EU membership and of being the only English-speaking jurisdiction in the eurozone;
common law jurisdiction, with a legal system that is broadly similar to the US and the UK systems;
refundable tax credit for research and development activity and other incentives; and
extensive and expanding double tax treaty network, with over 70 countries, including the US, UK, China and Japan.
Our experience, together with research carried out by the Economist Intelligence Unit on behalf of our firm, indicates that it is the unique combination of these factors, and not one specific element, which attracts investment to Ireland. While other countries may be competitive in some of the areas highlighted above, Irelands ability to create a compelling suite of both tangible factors (such as taxation and the regulatory framework) and more intangible elements (such as a can do attitude to business) is generally cited as central to its ability to attract investment over other EU countries.
Ireland: An Overview
Some of the largest companies in the world have located in Ireland, including:
The Economist Intelligence Unit report on Investing in Ireland: a survey of foreign direct investors, commissioned by Matheson, examines the key factors that bring foreign investment to Ireland. The report identified four cornerstones to Irelands FDI offering:
access to the EU internal market
the overall taxation infrastructure
the ability to supply a skilled pool of labour
a stable legal and fiscal framework
MAJOR ROAD RAIL TOWN/CITY
Ireland: An Overview
9Ireland: An Overview
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Population The population of Ireland now exceeds 4.5 million people.
Geography Ireland is an island situated off the north west of the European continent. Dublin, which is on the east coast, is the capital city and has a population of over one million people.
It is one hour by air from London and 90 minutes from Paris and Brussels.
Language English is the main language, making Ireland the only eurozone country in which English is the principal language.
Political and legal system Ireland is a stable parliamentary democracy with a written constitution and two houses of parliament. While the President is the constitutional Head of State, the powers and functions of the Presidential office are largely ceremonial. The Government is elected for five-year terms and controls the legislative and political process. Ireland is a member of the EU and the United Nations. Irish law is based on common law, legislation, the Irish Constitution and EU law. Ireland has a very similar legal system to the UK and the USA.
Northern Ireland, as part of the United Kingdom, operates in a separate political and legal system which is not addressed in this Guide.
Economy The currency of Ireland is the euro. Over the past decade, economic growth rates in Ireland have been consistently among the highest of OECD countries (countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development).
Irish Government policy has been and continues to be directed towards the creation of a stable economic environment that is supportive of the needs of business. Over the last ten years, the number employed in industry and services has increased significantly and expansion has
been particularly rapid in the areas of computer software/hardware, electronic engineering, food, pharmaceutical, healthcare and consumer products.
Transport infrastructure International and internal transport services are well developed. The island of Ireland has a number of large ports and there are international airports in Dublin, Belfast, Derry, Shannon (near Limerick) and Cork. There are also regional airports in Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Knock, Sligo and Waterford (which operate some international routes). Most European cities are accessible within two to three hours flying time. Ireland has a developed public transport infrastructure and has an excellent network of main and secondary roads linking the major population centres.
Financial infrastructure Ireland has a very well developed and sophisticated banking and financial services infrastructure with established experience in handling the requirements of international companies. The banking sector is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Over half of the worlds top 50 banks have operations in Ireland.
Pro-business infrastructure Ireland is recognised as one of the most attractive locations for international companies to access the EU internal market. The 2015 World Bank Doing Business report ranks Ireland in the top 10% of the 189 economies surveyed, while the 2010 World Bank Investing across Borders report states that Ireland:
is among the most open to foreign equity ownership (of high income OECD companies); and
has one of the simplest and shortest processes to establish a foreign-owned limited liability company (among high-income OECD countries).
Grants and Other Fiscal Incentives
11Grants and Other Fiscal Incentives
The Irish Government actively encourages international companies to choose Ireland as a European base. Part of the incentive package offered can be state financial assistance, in the form of grants, to defray start-up or other costs. The Industrial Development Authority (IDA) is Irelands FDI agency and has partnered with over 1,150 entities in establishing and expanding their Irish presence. A range of other supports, both financial a