Driving Productivity key to competitiveness and sustainable growth.

Today (Wednesday, 15 January 2020) Dr Frances Ruane, Chair of the National Competitiveness Council, took part in a panel discussion hosted by the Dublin Chamber of Commerce entitled “Competitiveness Challenges facing the Irish Economy”. Dr Ruane was joined on the panel by Dr Ciara Morley, Manager with EY-DKM Economic Advisory Services.

At the heart of Ireland’s national competitiveness is creating an environment in which Irish businesses are able to compete successfully in international markets. Dr Ruane’s presentation focused on the National Competitiveness Council’s Competitiveness Challenge 2019 report that examines issues relating to cost and productivity and makes recommendations to Government in these areas. The report notes that while Ireland is a competitive economy, there is still room for improvement, and a range of actions aimed at enhancing Ireland’s competitiveness and productivity are discussed in the report.

Dr Ruane noted that ‘as a small, highly-open and concentrated economy, we are particularly vulnerable to external shocks, as we saw clearly in 2008. Consequently, we cannot afford to be complacent about our strong overall performance and must continuously strive for improvement, so that we remain a highly competitive economy.’

In this context, Ireland’s Competitiveness Challenge 2019 focuses on a small number of issues in greater detail this year compared with previous years, and targets more closely the associated recommendations for Government. Specifically, the report looks at three areas where costs impact on business, and especially on SMEs, namely, the cost of credit, legal costs and insurance costs. The report also focuses on three issues in relation to productivity, namely, digital engagement, infrastructural investment, and skills and training. While the decision to focus on a smaller number of topics means that the Council does not cover the same breadth of issues as it has in previous years, there continue to be several other important challenges that the Council would like to see progressed that are not the focus of this year’s report.

Dr Frances Ruane noted that ‘the Competitiveness Challenge identifies a range of recommendations that address both immediate competitiveness issues, and more medium-term challenges aimed at enhancing Ireland’s competitiveness and productivity performance. It is imperative that progress is made on these recommendations by the relevant Government Departments and State bodies over the course of 2020, supporting competitiveness and sustainable economic growth so that our living standards and quality of life can continue to improve.’