Czech-Irish Business & Cultural Association
A WORD FROM OUR PRESIDENT
Since 1991 members of the Irish business community in Prague have been meeting informally to exchange ideas and experiences. A few years later, the inaugural launch of the Czech-Irish Business Association took place in the restaurant U Ševce Matouše beside Prague castle in December 1995. Now more than twenty years later and a churn of several hundred souls, the Irish business community has become a steadfast force in the Czech Republic.
The strength of CIBCA is very much in community building – CIBCA arranges events where business people and partners can get together and develop a lifestyle, business contacts and friends all at the same time.
CIBCA has been recognized by the Irish government as the premier voice of the Irish community in the Czech Republic and as such has participated in events with President McAleese, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Tánaiste Mary Harney, Ministers Micheál Martin, Dermot Ahern, Mary Coughlan, Michael Ahern, Noel Ahern and many other visiting dignitaries.
CIBCA has always been supported by the Embassy of Ireland, and by all previous ambassadors: Marie Cross (September 1995 - July 1999), Michael Collins (August 1999 - July 2001), Joe Hayes (October 2001 - August 2005), Donal Hamill (September 2005 - October 2009), Richard Ryan (December 2009 - November 2011), Alison Kelly (February 2012 - August 2015) and Charles Sheehan (August 2015+). As a not-for-profit organization, CIBCA makes donations to charities linking Ireland and the Czech Republic, such as the Barretstown Gang Camp, Krtek children’s cancer unit in Brno Hospital (which works with the BGC), The Ocean Youth Trust Ireland (the Czech team were the overall winners of the race from N. Ireland to France in 2005) and others. Over the years CIBCA has donated many hundreds of thousands of crowns to charity and good causes. The committee and members of CIBCA are committed to continue in this strong tradition of service and community. We hope you will join us!
Ireland’s economic recovery is continuing at a robust pace despite a challenging regional and global environment. Growth was initially driven by exports but has since broadened with domestic demand now making a strong positive contribution. Real GDP rose by 5.1% in 2016, while GDP increased by almost 7 ½% in the first three quarters of 2017, although the headline figure overstates the pace of underlying growth in the economy which is closer to 5%.
The Department of Finance is forecasting real GDP growth of 3.5% in 2018 and 3.2% in 2019. Both net exports and underlying domestic demand – that is excluding the volatile components of investment spending – should contribute positively this year and next. Unemployment has fallen from a peak of 16% in early 2012 to 6.1% in January 2018. This is below the EU (7.3%) and Eurozone (8.7%) averages. Ireland’s debt to GDP ratio is also on a firm downward trajectory. Having peaked at just under 120% of GDP in 2012, it is projected to reach 70.1% of GDP in 2017 and 60% of GDP by 2022.
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) continues to be a key contributor to Ireland’s economic development and growth. Over 1,300 foreign-owned companies have put down roots in Ireland and employ 10% of the Irish workforce. These include many of the world’s most successful global businesses, which have chosen Ireland as their strategic base in Europe. Ireland is consistently ranked as one of the most competitive economies in the world and is proud of being marked as the most productive economy in Europe.
In 2017 goods exports from Ireland totalled €122bn, the highest annual total on record. This is an increase of €2,846 million (+2%) over 2016. According to the Czech Statistical Office, Irish export of goods to the Czech Republic increased by 34% to €1.5bn while imports to €572m. Czech Republic and Central Europe continues to be a key market for Irish goods and services, especially in the context of Brexit and market diversification efforts of Irish companies. Enterprise Ireland’s office in Prague assists client companies in several markets in Central and Southeast Europe by providing tailor-made market research, business lead generation and introductions to buyers. The business drive to Czech market will be supported by Ministerial trade mission to Prague planned for June 2018.