The chief executive of the IDA has warned that any loss of competitiveness would have a negative impact on levels of foreign direct investment here.

Barry O'Leary was speaking at the launch of the agency's annual report for last year.

Mr O'Leary also said that the setting out of a pathway to lower personal taxation here would have a positive effect on winning investment from foreign multinational companies.

The IDA said that over 100 new investments were made into Ireland by foreign companies during the first six months of this year.

The combined investments will lead to the creation of 8,000 jobs this year and in future years.

The investments were across a range of sectors, including technology, life sciences, financial services and digital media, and across a number of counties.

Asked about the impact of the EU Commission's probe into the tax affairs of Apple in Ireland, Mr O'Leary, who is leaving the agency at the end of August, said tax comes up in every meeting the IDA is involved in.

However he said since the announcement of the investigation, there had not been any increase in the volume of discussion around the issue of Ireland's corporate tax system.

He said there had been no slowdown in the rate of foreign direct investment here, and added that the discussion about corporation tax systems is one which is taking place around the globe.

The IDA chief also said Ireland had benefited from improved competitiveness in recent years, and it is important that it remains strong.

He said it would remain an ongoing challenge to keep Ireland's value proposition competitive.

On the issue of personal taxation, Mr O'Leary said it is raised by those investing or looking to invest in Ireland.

He said if the Government were to set out a pathway to lower personal taxation, it would prove positive to the winning of foreign direct investment.

He denied that Ireland was putting too much emphasis on targeting technology investment, saying inward investments are spread across the four pillars of ICT, life sciences, financial services, digital media and content.

40% of investments from companies new to Ireland

Delivering an update on its work for the first half of 2014, the foreign direct investment agency said 40% of the investments secured during the period came from companies investing here for the first time.

Locations benefiting from the investments include Dublin, Limerick, Dundalk, Athlone, Galway and Mayo. Those announcing investments during the period include Intel, Tyco, IBM, PayPal, Airbnb, Johnson and Johnson, SAP and Adroll.

The IDA's annual report for 2013 showed that by the end of December, there were 161,112 people working for 1,100 IDA client companies - a record for the foreign direct investment sector here.

Together they export almost €121 billion of goods and services each year, and spend €12.5 billion in the Irish economy.

The IDA said the second half of the year looks promising, particularly in relation to first time investments.

"There remain significant economic challenges at home and abroad, but Ireland remains an attractive location for dynamic global companies and this was evident in the first half of the year," said outgoing IDA chief executive Barry O'Leary.

"Ireland's FDI proposition is aimed at sectors where growth is continuing despite challenges in the global economy, and that should provide strong momentum in the second half of the year, with the pipeline looking encouraging," Mr O'Leary stated.

"An increasing focus on Ireland's value proposition will ensure Ireland continues its position as one of the leading countries in the world for winning FDI. With so much growing competition for FDI the need for differentiation is constant," he added.

Mr O'Leary also said that a clear pathway to lower personal taxation would also assist in attracting further jobs into the country.