Leo Varadkar, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport; Catherine Day, Secretary General, European Commission; Maurice Pratt, Chairperson, European Movement Ireland; Paul A. Mahon, President and CEO, Great-West Lifeco.

PRESS RELEASE: EU Trade Agreement with Canada could boost Irish Exports by €1.2bn p.a.

Dublin, Friday 11 April, 2014: Irish exports to Canada could double from an estimated €1.2 billion per annum to €2.4 billion per annum under a new Trade Agreement recently signed between the EU and Canada.  In addition, an impending EU trade deal with the US has the potential to boost exports even further.

These benefits were highlighted at a seminar in Dublin hosted by European Movement Ireland entitled Trading our Way to Prosperity: The EU and Free Trade Agreements.  The event, which was supported by Irish Life, was part of EM Ireland’s programme of events to mark the organisation’s 60th anniversary.

The potential impact on Ireland of these EU trade agreements was discussed by a panel of speakers including;

  • Leo Varadkar, TD, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport;
  • Paul Mahon, President and CEO, Great-West Lifeco;
  • Catherine Day, Secretary General, European Commission.

The seminar was chaired by Maurice Pratt, Chairperson, European Movement Ireland.

Speaking at the event, Leo Varadkar TD, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport said: “I want to pay tribute to the sterling work that European Movement Ireland has been doing for the past 60 years to encourage debate and engagement on European issues in Ireland.  While today it is dealing with free trade issues, next week it will be working in primary and secondary schools helping to open the eyes of our next generation to European issues.  Given the transatlantic flavour of today’s event, I must draw attention to the fact that last year was the best ever year for visitors from North America and I expect further growth in that market this year.”

Paul Mahon, President and CEO of Great-West Lifeco – which acquired Irish Life last year and employs 3,000 people in Ireland – spoke of the benefits of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) involving the EU and Canada, which was signed in late 2013.  Mr Mahon said he believed this represented a huge opportunity for Ireland in particular.

“It’s estimated that CETA could raise bilateral trade by 23% or €26 billion.  The benefits are estimated to be €11.6 billion for Europe and €8.2 billion for Canada.  With almost half the benefits expected to be in services and Ireland having such a strong base in service related industry, there is a huge opportunity here for Ireland.

Great-West Lifeco has seen first-hand the benefits of doing business in and from Ireland.  With its skilled workforce and ability to serve as an English-speaking hub for access to the rest of Europe, Ireland has an opportunity to capture a disproportionate amount of the benefits that will be generated by CETA.”

According to Catherine Day, Secretary General of the European Commission, the European Union is negotiating a new generation of trade agreements as part of its overall strategy to stimulate growth and jobs in the EU.  These trade agreements with the world’s most developed countries like Canada, the US, and Japan, can give a major boost to trade and investment and they will go beyond traditional tariff reductions.  Some of their most important features include regulatory co-operation, aiming to reduce the cost and administrative burden of selling into different markets.  “Ireland is well placed to take up and benefit from these opportunities as economic recovery in the EU strengthens,” she concluded.


Available for comment
EM Ireland’s Executive Director, Noelle O Connell, is available for interview and comment.  Contact EM Ireland’s Projects Officer, Ruth McCourt, on 085 887 7545 or ruth@europeanmovement.ie.

Irish Life Media Enquiries
Please contact Sheila Gahan at Wilson Hartnell on 01 669 0030 or 087 234 2409 or by email at sheila.gahan@ogilvy.com.

60 Years of European Movement Ireland
Founded in 1954, European Movement Ireland is a not-for-profit, voluntary, membership organisation working to make the connection between Irish people and the European Union.  Through education programmes and advocacy work, European Movement campaigns for every Irish person to get involved with the European Union and, by doing so, help shape it through reasoned, robust and informed debate.  We are proud to be celebrating 60 years of developing the connection between Ireland and Europe in 2014. For more information, visit www.europeanmovement.ie.

About Irish Life
Established in 1939, Irish Life is Ireland’s leading life, investment and pension company.  Since July 2013 Irish Life is part of the Great-West Lifeco group of companies, one of the world’s leading life assurance organizations.  Great-West Lifeco – which is headquartered in Winnipeg, Canada – has a record for financial strength, earnings stability and consistently high ratings from the independent rating agencies.  The Great-West Life Assurance Company has an AA Financial Strength rating from Standard & Poor’s.  Irish Life is committed to delivering innovative products backed by the highest standards of customer service.  And as part of Great-West, we have access to experience and expertise on a global scale, allowing us to continuously enhance our leading range of products and services.


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