Trump gives pharma giant cold feet in Cork

Eli Lilly's expansion "under review", as Labour TD issues FDI warning...

Trump gives pharma giant cold feet in Cork

Cork East TD Seán Sherlock has accused the Government of "sleep walking" since the election of US President Donald Trump and warned that the risk his protectionist policies pose to Irish foreign direct investment (FDI) is "very real".

The Labour politician's comments come as pharma giant Eli Lilly postpones its plans to invest €200 million in its Kinsale facility. 

A spokesperson for the drugs multinational told the Irish Examiner that a final decision on whether it will proceed is now under review, and will be made by Lilly's global board at the "appropriate stage of the process".

Sherlock believes Eli Lilly's hesitance could be a sign of things to come and that its decision to park future plans for now should be of enormous concern for Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor.

He said:

"I'm not getting a sense of urgency from the Government in relation to the outpourings from the Trump administration in relation to its potential impact for job creation and actually maintaining foreign direct investment.

"We need some sort of summit that will bring in ambassadors from right around the globe and we need to assess what the negative economic potential will be as a result of some of these decisions."

Seán Sherlock

Attempting to allay such fears, UCC economist Declan Jordan told the Irish Examiner that Eli Lilly was merely exercising "prudence and caution first" and that "we are overplaying the risk". Jordan argued that Ireland remains an attractive proposition for FDI.

In January, Trump accused Big Pharma of "getting away with murder" when it came to manufacturing outside of the US.

He said:

"We’ve got to get our drug industry back. Our drug industry has been disastrous. They’re leaving left and right.

"They supply our drugs, but they don’t make them here, to a large extent."

According to IDA Ireland, over 50,000 people are employed in the pharma and life sciences in Ireland, with US companies being the biggest employers in the sector.

Ireland is currently the EU's biggest net exporter of pharmaceuticals and the seventh biggest in the world. The industry exports €64bn worth of goods, accounting for a little over half the value of all our goods exports.