The chief executive of IDA Ireland has said the agency is starting to see slight delays in decisions around foreign direct investment (FDI) here as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. 

Martin Shanahan said that if the travel restrictions being put in place by many multinational companies were to continue over a long period, there would be an impact on FDI here later this year and into next year. 

"A lot of companies have instigated travel restrictions for their executives, which has impacted in the sense that site visits into Ireland have slowed," Martin Shanahan said.  

"That is not an immediate concern, but obviously if there was a prolonged period where such site visits weren't happening and where companies weren't sending executives to look at investment opportunities, that may have an impact down the road," he cautioned. 

Mr Shanahan said most companies have instigated travel restrictions in the last few weeks and so there may have been executives who had been due to travel here, but who did not do so.

"That does not have an immediate impact," he said. 

"We've seen obviously very strong announcements in the first few weeks of the year from investors. But if that was to prolong over a period, we would see an impact and that would likely be felt at the end of this year and into next year," he added. 

The Covid-19 outbreak has also disrupted IDA staff's own activities, he explained. 

"Like all other businesses IDA is taking steps to mitigate impact," he stated. 

"Our first concern obviously is for our own employees and since January our personnel in China have been working from home," the IDA boss said.

"We have stopped travel into China and inter-regional travel for IDA staff based in Asia. Obviously we would advise our staff to avoid the areas most acutely impacted," he added.