Ireland had a period of extraordinary growth from 1993 to 2007,
becoming one of the world’s most dynamic, innovative and globalised
economies, with extensive external trade and investment links.
In 2008, partly due to the open nature of its economy Ireland began
to feel the effects of the global economic downturn. Pressure on
the economy was significantly accentuated by the end of a prolonged
Irish property market boom and problems within the domestic banking
system. This led to a period of recession and a sharp contraction
in economic output.
Ireland is facing its current economic challenges in co-operation
with its funding partners in the European Union and the
International Monetary Fund. In 2011,Ireland’s economy returned to
growth. GDP growth for 2011 was 1.4% and was0.5% for the first half
of 2012, with projected growth for the full year of 0.9%. The
underlying government deficit continues to shrink fast and is
projected to be under 3% by 2015.
Ireland’s ongoing economic recovery is generally attributed to its
educated and flexible workforce; government measures to ensure
macroeconomic stability and to attract foreign investment; and
membership of the European Union, which now provides a market of
almost 500 million people. Ireland continues to be one of the most
open economies in the OECD, and exports are now showing strong
growth with a 5.1% increase in 2011 and a 3.8% increase in the
first half of 2012. There has been particularly strong growth in
the indigenous agri-food sector, with exports by value up by 25% in
just two years. Our strong export performance has meant that, for
the first time in a decade, our balance of payments with the rest
of the world has now moved into surplus.
Innovation, enterprise and investment
Ireland has a strong track record in attracting foreign direct
investment, with particular emphasis on the ICT, Life Sciences,
Financial Services and Consumer, Content and Business Services
sectors. Ireland’s positioning as a ‘Smart Economy’ continues apace
combining our innovative, enterprise economy with an
ever–increasing emphasis on the emerging areas of Clean/Green
Technologies, Services Innovation and Convergence. Ireland is also
a centre for digital media in Europe with major multinational
companies locating their European headquarters and a range of
business support activities here. Despite our economic challenges,
we continue to be recognized as 1st in the eurozone for ease of
doing business, 1st for the availability of skilled labour and the
2nd most attractive country globally for FDI.
Indigenous Irish companies continue to grow and compete on the
international market – 2011 saw Irish-owned companies achieve €15.2
billion in exports, an all-time record and in 2012, indigenous
Irish exporters recorded their highest net jobs gain since 2006.
Research, Development and Innovation in Ireland has seen sustained
growth and continued development in recent years, reflecting
significant increases in business and government funding to the
sector as well as R&D tax incentives for companies. R&D is
a core element of the Irish Government’s economic recovery strategy
and jobs agenda.
In the years since 2000 Irish government spend on R&D –
primarily through agencies such as Science Foundation Ireland,
Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and the Higher Education Authority
– has more than doubled to circa. €600 million annually. This
public research funding typically leverages private investment of
close to double that level, in the region of a further €1.1
billion. This very significant R&D investment has seen Ireland
rise quickly up the international rankings of scientific research
capability from 36th place in 2003 to breaking into the top 20 for
the first time in 2009, and remaining there ever since.
Education and training is a vital component of Ireland’s
knowledge-based economy, with approximately 1 million people in
full time education. 37% of the working age population (including
48% of 25-34 year olds) has a third level qualification,
significantly above the OECD average.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Ireland’s
Embassy network work with a number of government agencies to
contribute to the growth of enterprise, innovation and investment
in Ireland. Enterprise Ireland helps develop Irish-based enterprise
with the potential to trade internationally. IDA
Ireland is responsible for the attraction and development of
foreign investment in Ireland. Forfás provides overall policy
advice and co-ordination for enterprise development and science,
technology and innovation. Science Foundation Ireland invests in
academic researchers and research teams who are most likely to
generate new knowledge, leading edge technologies and competitive
enterprises in the fields of science and engineering.
Ireland’s total trade in 2011 was approximately €304 billion, with
a merchandise trade surplus of more than €43 billion. Total goods
exports amounted to €173 billion, with services exports valued at
€131 billion. The main merchandise goods traded include organic
chemicals (mainly for the pharmaceutical sector), medical &
pharmaceutical products and computers. The main services areas are
Computer Services, Trade Related Business Services and Insurance
and Financial Services. Ireland’s main trading partners include the
United States, Great Britain, Belgium, Germany, France, the
Netherlands, Switzerland and Japan. Trade with other markets, such
as China, Russia and Mexico, is also expanding rapidly.
Since 2003 Ireland’s corporate tax regime has been fixed at a rate
of 12.5%. This applies to all Irish corporate trading profits. A
rate of 25% applies to non-trading (passive) income.
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade: www.dfat.ie
Department of Jobs, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade:
Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation: www.djei.ie
IDA Ireland: www.idaireland.com
Enterprise Ireland: www.enterprise-ireland.com
Science Foundation Ireland: www.sfi.ie
Department of Finance: www.finance.gov.ie
Central Bank of Ireland: www.centralbank.ie
Central Statistics Office: www.cso.ie
Of the total land area of approximately 7 million hectares (17
million acres), 5 million hectares (12.32 million acres) are used
for agricultural purposes (including forestry). Beef and dairying
are by far the most important sectors of the agricultural industry.
The main crops are barley, wheat, potatoes and mushrooms. The
Agri-Food industry makes a significant contribution to the Irish
economy. The combined agri-food and drink sector accounts for 7% of
GDP, over €9 billion of exports and accounts for 150,000 jobs.
A key initiative in this area is the development of Bord Bia’s
(Irish Food Board) Origin Green initiative, designed to establish
Ireland as a world leader in sustainability. Since launching in
June 2012, some 164 companies accounting for almost 60% of Irish
food and drink exports have signed up to the programme. These
companies are currently working with Bord Bia to develop, and
commit to, sustainability plans setting out clear targets in key
areas such as emissions, energy, waste, water, biodiversity and
corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. Individual
sustainability commitments submitted by major players within the
Irish food industry include a 20% reduction in energy use by 2015;
the implementation of rainwater harvesting by 2014 and a 30%
reduction in emissions by 2020.
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine: www.agriculture.gov.ie
Bord Bia (Irish Food Board): www.bordbia.ie
Teagasc (Agriculture & Food Development Authority): www.teagasc.ie
The Irish seafood industry provides employment for over 11,000
people. It makes a significant contribution to the economic and
social fabric of the many small communities located in mainly rural
areas or small towns and villages around the 3,171kilometres of our
coastline. In 2012, Irish seafood exports totalled €493 million, an
increase of 18% on the previous year.
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine: www.agriculture.gov.ie
Bord Iascaigh Mhara: www.bim.ie
Approximately 7 million tourists visit Ireland each year, spending
approximately€3.4 billion, and sustaining more than 180,000 jobs.
Tourism Ireland was established under the framework of the Good
Friday Agreement 1998 to co-ordinate the work of the two tourist
boards on the island, Fáilte Ireland and the Northern Ireland
Ireland’s successful tourism industry is built around the three
themes: Irish people, Irish culture and the physical beauty of the
2013 is a special year for Irish tourism as we celebrate The
Gathering, a year- long celebration of Ireland, its people and
its connections, both at home and abroad. The Gathering Ireland
2013 is a people-led project where we invite anyone who has a
link to Ireland or just a love of the country, to come to Ireland
for a series of events throughout 2013.
Tourism Ireland: www.ireland.com
The Gathering: www.thegatheringireland.com
Radio and Television
The national radio and television service is operated by Radió
Telefís Éireann (RTÉ), the public broadcasting company which
transmits on two television and four radio channels as well as a
range of digital channells and online. RTÉ derives its revenue from
licence fees and the sale of advertising time. TV3 is a commercial
broadcaster and there are many commercial radio stations including
Today FM and Newstalk.
Irish speakers are served by a dedicated radio channel, Radió
na Gaeltachta (operated by RTÉ) and by TG4, an
independent Irish language television channel.
The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) was established in
2009, as an independent regulator for radio and television
broadcasters in Ireland. The Authority is funded through a levy on
all broadcasters licensed in the State.
Radió Teilifís Éireann: www.rte.ie
Today FM: www.todayfm.com
Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI): www.bai.ie
Newspapers have been published in Ireland for over 300 years. Today
there are national daily, weekly and weekend newspapers. There are
also about 60 local newspapers, usually published weekly and a wide
variety of magazines dealing with current affairs, economic issues
and leisure interests.
The Irish Times: www.irishtimes.com
Irish Independent: www.independent.ie
Irish Examiner: www.irishexaminer.ie
Sunday Business Post: www.thepost.ie
Sunday Independent: www.independent.ie
Evening Echo: www.eecho.ie
Evening Herald: www.herald.ie
Press Council of Ireland (and the office of the Press Ombudsman):