Opening Bell: Ireland improves competitiveness, Apple eyes Cork move, IMF gloom

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Ireland has moved up one place to 23rd in the World Economic Forum’s annual competitiveness report.

According to the report the most problematic factors when doing business in Ireland are an inadequate supply of infrastructure, our tax rates, and access to finance.

The report highlights a significant gap in innovation between Northern and Western European countries - and the rest of the continent.

Switzerland tops the index for the eighth year in a row - it’s followed by Singapor, the US, and the Netherlands.

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Apple is reported to be doubling down on its Irish presence and moving its international iTunes business to Dublin.

“Apple has been operating in Ireland since 1980 and now employs nearly 6,000 people. As we continue to expand our operations in Cork, we are moving our iTunes business there, and will support content stores for more than 100 countries from our campus at Hollyhill,” the company said in a letter to suppliers.

This transfer is due to be completed by early 2017.

The company has already announced plans to create an additional 1,000 Irish jobs this year, and it has been given planning permission to expand the Hollyhill site.

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The International Monetary Fund has warned that central banks around the world are failing to stop deflation.

Its half-yearly World Economic Outlook says that urgent action is needed to reverse a slowdown in global trade, and to break a pattern of low growth, low job creation and high debts.

The gloomy report adds that a wave of protectionist policies since 2012 have led to a fall-off in international trade.

This comes after the World Trade Organisation cut its forecast for global trade growth in 2016 by more than a third.

This would be the lowest growth rate since the onset of the global economic crisis.

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Facebook is set to be banned from collecting user data from Whatsapp in Germany.

Officials have judged that the controversial move to compel users to connect their Whatsapp and Facebook accounts has breached data protection rules.

The data protection commissioner for the city of Hamburg has told Facebook to delete all the account information which it has already received from Whatsapp users - including individuals’ phone numbers.

Facebook has said that it will appeal against this order - it’s argued that Whatsapp data will be used to try to make the ads that appear on Facebook more relevant to users.

The social media giant bought WhatsApp in 2014 - paying $22bn.