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Taoiseach travels to US West Coast for trade mission

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has embarked on a trade mission to Seattle, Silicon Valley and San Francisco.

The primary focus of the visit is on growing trade, investment and tourism opportunities between Ireland and the US, and on highlighting Ireland’s priorities in the context of Brexit and other international developments. The programme includes a series of meetings with client companies and representatives of the IDA, Enterprise Ireland and Tourism Ireland.

In Seattle, the Taoiseach will engage with key business leaders as well as local Irish community representatives before travelling on to Silicon Valley for a number of engagements with existing and potential investors in Ireland.

In San Francisco, the Taoiseach will have the opportunity to meet with Mayor Edwin Lee and Irish Community representatives at City Hall on Thursday evening. On Friday, he will attend an Enterprise Ireland event aimed at supporting the growth of Irish companies on the West Coast before officially opening the San Francisco office of Enterprise Ireland client company, Linesight.

Speaking ahead of the trip the Taoiseach said:

My visit to the US West Coast is a valuable opportunity to engage with major business leaders and further strengthen the economic relationship between Ireland and the US. I will highlight Ireland's position as an island at the centre of the world, our strong commitment to EU membership and our status as a gateway for US firms into Europe and other global markets.

As an open trading economy at the heart of Europe, I want to double Ireland’s global footprint over the next seven years to maximise opportunities for growth and prosperity for our people at home and abroad. More than 230 companies which are headquartered on the US West Coast employ over 47,000 people in Ireland and in turn more than 130 Irish companies operate on the West Coast. The region is also increasingly accessible, thanks to the recent reopening of a number direct flight routes to and from Ireland.

As well as economic ties, there are strong cultural links between Ireland and the West Coast, with one in ten residents of San Francisco and Seattle claiming Irish ancestry. I look forward to meeting members of the Irish community in both cities and promoting the strong links between the Irish and American people.

Quick Facts – Ireland and the US West Coast:

• California, the largest state in the West Coast territory, had a GDP of 2.6 trillion dollars in 2016 – the highest in the United States, and the world’s 6th largest economy in itself.
• California is one of the largest single source locations of FDI, and accounts for c.25,000 jobs in Ireland, primarily from companies headquartered in Silicon Valley.
• Silicon Valley is home to the world’s largest high tech cluster.
• Seattle is currently one of the fastest growing technology clusters in the US.
• As of year-end 2016, there were 223 West Coast headquartered companies operating in Ireland, employing 46,540 people, a 4% increase on the previous year.
• Employment by West Coast companies accounts for nearly one quarter of total employment figures by IDA clients in Ireland, which currently stands at nearly 200,000.
• More than 700 Irish companies are active across the USA collectively generating more than €3.74bn in revenue in 2016. Of these more than 140 are active on the West Coast across all sectors of the economy although principally delivering solutions to the innovation economy.
• 2016 was a record year for overseas visitors from North America to the island of Ireland.
• The North American markets of the US and Canada are among the most important for tourism to the island of Ireland, delivering 15% of all overseas visitors and 27% of all overseas tourism revenue. Visitors from these markets tend to stay longer and travel more widely around the island.
• In the last US census, 35 million people identified Irish as their primary heritage. 10% of the population of San Francisco Bay Area and 11.3% of Seattle Metro claims Irish as their primary heritage.
• There are approximately 9,000 Irish born people living in the greater Bay Area.