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Ireland - Overview

Contents extracted from the comprehensive atlas of international trade by Export Entreprises


Capital:: Dublin
Area:: 70 km2
Total Population:: 4.587
Annual growth rate:: 0.00%
Density:: 67.00/km2
Urban population:: 63%
Population of Dublin (1.661), Cork (188), Galway (72), Tallaght (64), Blanchardstown (63)
Official language: Irish (Gaelic), spoken as a first language by about 55,000 people (mostly in the west).
Other languages spoken: English. Official documents are printed in both languages.
Business language: English
Ethnic Origins:: Irish, with English minority.
Beliefs: Roman Catholic 88.4%; Church of Ireland 3%; Other Christian 1.6%; Other 1.5%; Unspecified 2%; None 3.5%.
Telephone codes:
To make a call from: 0
To make a call to: +353
Internet suffix:: .ie
Type of State::
Ireland is a sovereign, independent, democratic state with a parliamentary system of government. The president, who serves as head of state in a largely ceremonial role, is elected for a 7-year term and can be re-elected only once. There is universal suffrage for those over 18.
Type of economy::
High-income economy, OECD member
The country, which has been hardly hit by the economic crisis, records a large deficit.

Economic overview

Having been baldy affected by the global financial crisis and the crisis in the eurozone, the Irish economy has been showing some signs of recovery yet growth has been sluggish, reaching only 0.4% of the GDP in 2012 and 0.6% in 2013. According to the central bank's forecast, this rate should reach around 2% in 2014 with the resumption of consumption and investment.

Irland left the bailout plan in December 2013 and has again become a financially independent country. The country meticulously followed the advice of the troika (IMF, ECB, EU), implementing a policy of austerity including a rise in taxation, reduction of state sector wages and introducing budget cuts. International investors have regained confidence in the country, as evidenced by the successful emission of ten-year state obligation and the stabilisation of the banking sectors. 

The increase in competitiveness has been attractive to foreign companies. State debt should nevertheless reach a record level of 126% of the GDP in 2014. The budget deficit, which has been decreasing, is now at 7.3% of the GDP but the goal is to reduce it under 3% by 2015. The government will continue its policy of fiscal consolidation and its structural reforms. Household debt is high and there have been many cases of mortgage foreclosures.

The unemployment rate is at its three-year minimum yet remains still very high, close to 13% of the workforce.

Main industries

Agriculture remains a key sector despite its small part of the GDP (1%).  The government is trying to consolidate its role in the economy by modernizing it and by expanding the food-processing industries (beef, dairy products, potatoes, barley and wheat).

Ireland’s recent industrial development has been achieved by an intentional policy promoting high-tech companies to export and, in part, by offering attractive packages to investors. This sector contributes to nearly one third of the GDP. Textiles, chemical and electronic products have, in particular, obtained high results.

The service sector (approximately two-thirds of the GDP), banking and finance have experienced  such a large growth that Dublin counts now with a sizable international financial center and tourism has become a substantial source for foreign exchange revenues (5% the GDP).

Foreign trade overview

Ireland is a very open economy and therefore very dependent on the international situation. Trade represented over 187% of the GDP on average between 2010-2012 (WTO).

Following the international economic crisis the structural trade surplus has increased sharply, especially due to the fall in imports. In 2013, the trade surplus decreased under the effect of the reduction in exports, a trend which should continue in 2014 with the expected recovery in imports.

The main imports are machinery and equipment, oil and petroleum products, textiles and clothing. The main exports are computers, chemical and pharmaceutical products, live animals and animal products. Ireland's main trade partners are the European Union and the United States.


According to the 2013 World Investment Report published by the UNCTAD, in 2012 Ireland ranked 12th among the world's largest FDI receivers. The country moved from 167th place to 19th place in the global ranking of investor countries. FDI flows remained dynamic in 2013 and should continue to perform well in 2014.

The structure of FDI has undergone through a transformation, the low value-added activities have been reduced to the profit of  R & D and upscale services (engineering, information and communications technologies, pharmaceutical products, medical technology). The country's assets include its attractive fiscal and legal frame, a high-skilled and multi-cultural work force and a strong relationship with the United States. In addition, the crisis has brought the costs of both labor and real estate down, which further increases its attractiveness to investors.

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