The U.S.-Irish Economic and Diplomatic Relationship Under COVID-19

On Friday, May 29, the Meridian Corporate Council hosted a virtual conversation between H.E. Daniel Mulhall, Ambassador of Ireland to the U.S., and Frank Bisignano, Chairman and CEO of Fiserv. The hour-long conversation centered on U.S.-Irish relations in the time of COVID-19, through the lens of economic and diplomatic ties between the two countries. 

H.E. Daniel Mulhall joined the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1978 and was named Ireland’s 18th Ambassador to the U.S. in August 2017. Before his time in Washington, DCAmbassador Mulhall served as Ireland’s Ambassador in London (2013-2017) and Ambassador to Germany (2009-2013). He has also served as Ireland’s Director-General for European Affairs (2005-2009) in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Mr. Frank Bisignano joined Fiserv in July 2019 as its COO and was named President and CEO in May 2020. Fiserv is a global leader in technology and payments that enables commerce, banking, and the safe and secure movement of money. Mr. Bisignano was Chairman and CEO of First Data prior to its acquisition by Fiserv in July 2019. Prior to joining First Data, Mr. Bisignano was co-COO and CEO of Mortgage Banking at JPMorgan Chase & Co. 

Ambassador Mulhall opened the discussion with remarks on the strong economic, historical, and ancestral ties between Ireland and the United States. These ties are further strengthened through the 700 U.S. businesses that operate in Ireland, employing over 10% of Ireland’s workforce. On the other side of the Atlantic, 500 Irish businesses employ over 100,000 Americans. Ireland is a critical part of the world’s COVID-19 response, due to its robust environment for medical research, development, and manufacturing. Ireland is the world’s third-largest pharmaceutical exporter, and accounts for the second largest medtech exports in Europe. 

Mr. Bisignano continued the conversation on Ireland’s welcoming business environment, remarking that in addition to the innovative mindset and technological capabilities of the Irish populace, Ireland offers an incredibly rich talent pool for multinational companies such as Fiserv. Further, Ireland’s membership in the EU opens multinational companies to the European single market of 450 million people and talent pool of 27 member countries.  

The conversation continued with an emphasis on relationships and collaboration in today’s virtual environment. COVID-19 challenges business and diplomatic relationships, where casual, in-person discussions provide such high value. However, international diplomatic and business partnerships will be the key to the COVID-19 response, and as such, efforts should be made to reduce any friction or disagreements that may arise. The In the words of Ambassador Mulhall, “no country has a monopoly on wisdom." Collaboration gets the best results.  

Project summary

The U.S.-Irish Economic and Diplomatic Relationship Under COVID-19 | June 2020
Number of Attendees: 99
Regions: Europe and Eurasia
Countries: Ireland
Impact Areas: Business and Trade, Global Health
Program Areas: Convening
Partners: Diplomatic Corps, Private Sector, Public Sector