Almost one new US plant per week has opened in Ireland over the past two years. One in every two US firms investing in new facilities in Europe is selecting Ireland, and indeed investment by US companies is still growing dramatically. Over the last four years the average annual increase has been 41 percent -- three times as great as the average increase in the European Community as a whole.
We have not sat around passively waiting for American suitors to come around to see what we have to offer. We have gone out and sought specific industries. The range and quality of US firms manufacturing in Ireland are the result of a strategy worked out by our Industrial Development Authority in the early 1970s to attract high technology industries in growth sectors, specifically electronics, health care, pharmaceutical, engineering and, more recently, international service industries.
As a result we find today in Ireland industries which are in the forefront of technological development. Ten years ago there was, in fact, no electronic industry as such in Ireland. Today more than 130 of the leading and most dynamic electronic companies in the world are manufacturing there: Amdahl making large-scale computers; Apple making personal computers; Mostek making integrated circuits; Analog Devices designing and manufacturing complementary metal oxide semi-conductors (CMOS); DEC making minicom-puter systems and Wang making word-processing systems.
Between 1975 and 1985 the numbers employed in the electronics industry will have increased six-fold. This dramatic growth is reflected not only in the scale but also the composition of Irish industrial exports. Ireland is now the second largest supplier of complete computer hardware systems to Britain, ahead of other major industrial countries such as the Federal Republic of Germany and France.
Forty of the 70 overseas companies operating in the health care and pharmaceutical industrial sector come from the United States of America. They have been a major influence in raising exports making Ireland the 12th largest exporter of pharmaceutical products in the world.
Profitability has been a key factor in the growth of US investment in our economy. Year after year, independent US Department of Commerce figures have shown that Ireland provides the environment and the productivity which give the industrialist as high a return as is available anywhere in the world on industrial investment.
It is not just that US firms are coming to Ireland in greater numbers. Those already in production are expanding and diversifying their ventures and re-investing their profits within the country. Westinghouse Corporation, for example, which started its first plant in Ireland in 1976, has since established seven others.
Many are now introducing research and development, product engineering or marketing functions or establishing headquarter operations in Ireland. These developments will ensure the continued growth and security of these enterprises in Ireland, especially in the current period of rapid change in technology and market conditions.