US multinationals now employ around 115,000 people in Ireland, according to the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland.

The chamber’s President Peter Keegan said that these jobs were spread across 700 companies and represented a 15% increase since Ireland’s economic crisis began five years ago.

Investment by US companies has increased 15% during the same time period, he said, bringing the total investment figure to $188 billion.

“The strength and on-going success of Foreign Direct Investment in Ireland is playing a crucial role in Ireland’s economic recovery,” said Mr Keegan.

“That’s part of the reason FDI is so important to economies and it also goes some way towards explaining why competition for FDI from other countries is intensifying with each passing year.”

Mr Keegan said Ireland must not become complacent about FDI, especially as other countries are improving their tax competitiveness.

He said the Government here must not shy away from “robustly protecting our competitive tax regime”, particularly as the international focus shifts from Ireland’s corporation tax and towards tax base consolidation, a financial transaction tax and transfer pricing.

“Ireland is not a tax haven and this is confirmed by the OECD and by the many tax treaties we have in place. Investors in Ireland build businesses of substance,” he said.

“We should not feel the need to be defensive or in any way embarrassed about this legitimate use of tax as a competitive tool”.

Mr Keegan also welcomed improvements in Ireland’s general competitiveness but said there was still a lot of progress required to return the country to its previous strength.

He said there was still a lot of work ahead for the country, but there were also an increasing number of reasons for optimism.