This is the complete transcript of Europe Editor Sean Whelan's 28 January, 2009 interview with Intel Chairman Craig Barrett who assured us 'there’s no immediate danger of job cuts in Ireland'. Less than three weeks later, Intel announced 200-300 cuts at its Leixlip plant.
Mr Barrett, obviously in this economic climate, a lot of people in Ireland are concerned about losing jobs. They’ve seen Dell quitting the country. They’re wondering. Intel. The most valuable company operating in Ireland. What’s the future?
Well I think the future is bright. Ireland is really no different than the United States or many of the other areas we’re operating in. It’s a competitive environment for everyone. Intel’s going to be successful going forward if we continue to invest in research and development, new products, competitive in the marketplace. Ireland has to be competitive in the marketplace. US has to be competitive. Right now though, I think we’ve got a great relationship.
So you don’t anticipate any job cuts or job losses in Ireland, do you?
Well, we recently announced some factory restructuring that didn’t include Ireland. It included factories in the United States and Phillippines and some other countries so there’s no immediate danger of job cuts in Ireland.
But, you know, nobody can predict the future. This is one of the worst recessions we’ve ever seen. So we’ll take it day by day.
Is Ireland a competitive place to do business, because that’s the concern people have. That the country is becoming uncompetitive. That’s what Dell said as the reason for them pulling out and going to Poland. So is it a competitive place for Intel to do business in?
Well, competitive is different for different companies. The manufacturing we do is still competitive in Ireland. There’s still value-add. It’s leading in technology. It’s not labour sensitive. It’s more capital sensitive. So labour costs are less of an issue than they would be for companies like Dell. But we still do a lot of manufacturing in Ireland and in the United States and we can be competitive in a high-cost environment.
Do you plan anymore investments in Ireland?
Right now, you know, it’s a difficult economic time. We’re here now announcing the formation of some European laboratory for Intel. And that includes part of what we’ve been doing in Ireland. Part of our nanotechnology research there. Part of our aging research, the TRIL programme that goes on. That will be an integral part of our European research activities. So we’ll continue to grow those over the time.
Finally, there’s been some concern expressed in government circles that multinationals like yours may be worried about Ireland and the Lisbon Treaty. That if there’s a second vote ‘No’ on the Lisbon Treaty that multinationals like yours might consider leaving the country. Is that a concern for you?
No, there’s not been the concern for us leaving the country as the Irish people express their will. And I’m not an Irish citizen so it’s probably not appropriate for me to comment on whether Ireland should vote Yea or Nay on the EU Constitution. But, you know, the European Union has developed into a powerful economic zone but it’s really something for the Europeans to decide in the future and not for US citizens to comment on that.