Economic Trends/Outlook in Ireland

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Economic Overview

The Irish economy was seriously affected by the international financial crisis because of its extensive in-sourcing, its high level of financialization and the importance of real estate in the active economy.  It was the first European country to go into recession and it should restore a positive growth in 2011.  From -7.6% in 2009, the contraction of GDP was reduced to -0.3% in 2010, due to the slow progress in the exports of chemical and pharmaceutical products. 

In the context of a reduction of fiscal revenues and an increase in social costs, the priority of the government remains in restricting expenditures, reorganizing public finance, stabilizing the bank system and improving competitiveness.  The objective is to bring the public deficit to 3% of GDP from now until 2014, against 12.8% where it stands now.

The unemployment rate, which was low in 2007, started to rise since 2008 and could reach more than 13% today.

Main Indicators 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
GDP (billions USD) 222.36 204.26e 212.79e 217.44e 224.30e
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) -7.6 -1.0e 0.5e 1.9e 2.4e
GDP per Capita (USD) 49,863 45,689e 47,751e 48,954e 50,127e
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -9.6e -8.0e -5.9e -5.7e -4.8e
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 65.5e 96.1e 114.1e 121.5e 125.8e
Inflation Rate (%) -1.7 -1.6e 0.5e 0.5e 1.4e
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labor Force) 11.8 13.6e 14.5e 13.3e 12.8e
Current Account (billions USD) -6.71e 0.85e -0.19e -0.10e -
Current Account (in % of GDP) -2.9e 0.4e -0.1e -0.0e -

Source: IMF - World Economic Outlook Database

Note: (e) Estimated Data


Main Sectors of Industry

Agriculture remains a key sector despite its small part of the GNP (3%).  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 more than one third of the GNP. Textiles, chemical and electronic products have, in particular,  obtained high results.
The service sector (approximately two-thirds of the GNP), 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 GNP).

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 5.6 25.7 68.1
Value Added (in % of GDP) 1.0 31.2 67.8
Value Added (Annual % Change) 8.4 -4.6 -7.3

Source: World Bank - Last Available Data.

For more detailed background on Industries in Ireland, click here.

Indicator of Economic Freedom

Mostly free
World Rank:
Regional Rank:

Distribution of Economic freedom in the world
Source: 2011 Index of Economic freedom, Heritage Foundation


Country Risk

See the Country Risk Analysis Provided By Ducroire.


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