Ireland warned that it cannot rely on pharma companies as tax reforms are rolled out

Meanwhile, IDA chief executive Martin Shanahan has welcomed Pfizer's plans to move its headquarters to Ireland

Ireland warned that it cannot rely on pharma companies as tax reforms are rolled out

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Ireland’s exports rose strongly – up by 17% in October to €10.3bn – driven by the performance of multinationals based here, particularly in the pharma sector.

Oversea sales of organic chemicals contributed about 30% of this output at €2.9bn.

But a report published this morning by Chartered Accountants Ireland, suggests the pharmaceutical sector here could be most vulnerable to newly-agreed tax measures to cut down on international corporate tax avoidance.

A key principle of these so-called BEPS measures is that the taxes raised in particular countries would be more proportionate to the overall presence of a company in that country.

The risk according to the report’s author, UCC economist, Seamus Coffey, is that only 1% of the sales of pharmaceuticals in the EU take place in Ireland.

The loss of corporation taxes from pharma companies over time as a result of these moves could amount to nearly €600m, according to the report.

Going Green

Meanwhile, the controversial merger of pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Allergan represents an "opportunity" for Ireland according to IDA chief executive Martin Shanahan.

Speaking to the Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mr Shanahan said that there is a "disproportionate focus on tax nationally and internationally in relation to Ireland."

Pfizer plans to move its headquarters to Ireland where Allergan is already based. The 'tax inversion' deal will allow the company to take advantage of Ireland's low corporation tax rate.

This move has been widely criticised in the US and has become a live issue in the US presidential race.

"When the merger happens we will work with them jointly and we will look at it as an opportunity to increase the substance of [the company's] operations further as they transfer their headquarters here," Mr Shanahan added.