As published on rte.ie, Thursday 6 August, 2020.
A top trade adviser to US President Donald Trump has described Ireland as a "tax haven" that was "punching very high above its weight" in the pharmaceutical sector because of its low taxes.
Peter Navarro was speaking to reporters ahead of an announcement by Mr Trump on bringing pharmaceutical manufacturing back to the US.
Later today, the US president will sign an executive order called "Combating Public Health Emergencies and Strengthening National Security by Ensuring Essential Medicines, Medical Countermeasures, and Critical Inputs Are Made in the United States."
Mr Navarro claimed that the coronavirus highlighted the fact that the US is "dangerously over-dependent" on foreign countries for medicines, medical supplies and equipment.
Mr Navarro said countries like China and India were using cheap labour to take pharmaceutical manufacturing from the US and that countries like Ireland were using low taxes to attract other elements of the supply chain process.
He said: "The tax haven problem is significant. Ireland, Singapore, Switzerland, India, China - all of these countries have incentives which are designed to pull pharmaceutical manufacturing offshore and within their borders.
"And so you see a country like Ireland punching very, very high above its weight simply because of its tax advantages."
The executive order that Mr Trump will sign today will cut regulations for the pharmaceutical sector and direct some US federal agencies to only buy drugs and medical materials that are made in the US.
The order does not contain tax incentives to lure US pharmaceutical companies back to America.
Mr Navarro said: "What drives this order is the "Buy American" feature of it.
"The idea here is that, in the absence of things like "Buy American" for a government procurement, we're going to continue to see our supply chains go offshore because of these pollution havens, tax havens, and sweatshops."
In May, Mr Trump vowed to bring US pharmaceutical manufacturing back to America, making specific reference to Ireland.
When asked about America's dependency on drug manufacturing in China, Mr Trump said: "It's not only China, you take a look at Ireland. They make our drugs. Everybody makes our drugs except us."
He said: "We're bringing that whole supply chain back."
In March, the US president was asked about access to medical devices and said: "Ireland does a lot of work for us in that world, in the pharma world. A very tremendous producer."
"We are looking to bring a lot more back home," he added.
As part of his "America First" policy, Mr Trump has repeatedly expressed his desire to see US companies move their foreign operations back to the US from countries such as Ireland.
The Irish Government and the IDA have insisted that the presence of US pharmaceutical companies in Ireland is of huge benefit to those firms as they can access EU markets, and that Ireland is an attractive location because of its combination of track record, skills availability and pro-enterprise policies.