World Economy

Why a Trump presidency could be scary for…Ireland

Donald Trump's bold statements against free trade have startled Europe, but Ireland may have more to fear than the rest of the euro zone if the Republican candidate makes it to the White House.

As a small, open economy with strong ties to the U.S., Ireland stands to lose if Trump lives up to his rhetoric and sets up barriers to trade such as import levies. Exports account for around 10 percent of Ireland's economy, making it the most exposed country of any in the 19-country euro zone, according to Nomura economists.

Donald Trump
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Charles St-Arnaud and Anna Titareva at the bank calculate Irish gross domestic product (GDP) will fall by around 2.4 percentage points if exports to the U.S. decline by one-fifth under Trump's proposed trade controls. That compares to an average knock to euro zone GDP of only 0.5 percentage points.

The economists reckoned euro zone exports to the U.S. would fall because of Trump's proposed 20 percent import tax. Plus, foreign direct investment (FDI) would likely be hit by his proposed one-off 10 percent tax on U.S. companies' repatriated earnings. Other proposed measures to keep U.S. businesses at home are a 15 percent flat corporation tax, compared with the current 35 percent and a 15 percent tax for outsourcing jobs.

"Within the euro zone, Ireland is particularly exposed to trade and FDI shocks that could stem from Mr Trump's policy proposals … The weaker growth resulting from a potential decline in imports and US investment could mean weaker government revenue, leading to higher fiscal risks and yields in some countries such as Ireland," St-Arnaud and Titareva said in a report on Tuesday.

The U.S. is Ireland's main destination for exports, with 24 percent of its goods for export heading there in 2015, according to official data from the European Union.

Shire's offices in the Citywest Business Campus in Dublin, Ireland.
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Ireland is currently a hub for the world's largest pharmaceuticals companies, with its low 12.5 percent corporate tax rate proving attractive for the likes of Pfizer and Shire. But a crackdown by Trump on so-called tax inversion deals and a proposed tax on outsourcing jobs could make the country less attractive for U.S. companies' operations.

"A permanently lower corporate tax rate and a tax on outsourcing will likely permanently reduce US FDI flows to the euro zone and affect EUR/USD," St-Arnaud and Titareva said.

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