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Ireland: Economy#

Ireland is a small, modern, trade-dependent economy. Ireland was among the initial group of 12 EU nations that began circulating the euro on 1 January 2002. GDP growth averaged 6% in 1995-2007, but economic activity has dropped sharply since the onset of the world financial crisis. Ireland entered into a recession in 2008 for the first time in more than a decade, with the subsequent collapse of its domestic property market and construction industry. Property prices rose more rapidly in Ireland in the decade up to 2007 than in any other developed economy. Since their 2007 peak, average house prices have fallen 47%. In the wake of the collapse of the construction sector and the downturn in consumer spending and business investment, the export sector, dominated by foreign multinationals, has become an even more important component of Ireland's economy. Agriculture, once the most important sector, is now dwarfed by industry and services. In 2008 the former COWEN government moved to guarantee all bank deposits, recapitalize the banking system, and establish partly-public venture capital funds in response to the country's economic downturn. In 2009, in continued efforts to stabilize the banking sector, the Irish Government established the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) to acquire problem commercial property and development loans from Irish banks. Faced with sharply reduced revenues and a burgeoning budget deficit, the Irish Government introduced the first in a series of draconian budgets in 2009. In addition to across-the-board cuts in spending, the 2009 budget included wage reductions for all public servants. These measures were not sufficient to stabilize Ireland’s public finances. In 2010, the budget deficit reached 32.4% of GDP - the world's largest deficit, as a percentage of GDP - because of additional government support for the country’s deeply troubled banking sector. In late 2010, the former COWEN government agreed to a $92 billion loan package from the EU and IMF to help Dublin recapitalize Ireland’s fragile banking sector and avoid defaulting on its sovereign debt. Since entering office in March 2011, the new KENNY government has intensified austerity measures to try to meet the deficit targets under Ireland's EU-IMF program. Ireland has grown slowly since 2011, but managed to reduce the budget deficit to 7.2% of GDP in 2013. In late 2013, Ireland formally exited its EU-IMF bailout program, benefiting from its strict adherence to deficit-reduction targets and success in refinancing a large amount of banking-related debt.

Economic Facts#

GDP (purchasing power parity)$190.4 billion (2013 est.)
$189.3 billion (2012 est.)
$189 billion (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars
GDP - real growth rate0.6% (2013 est.)
0.2% (2012 est.)
2.2% (2011 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$41,300 (2013 est.)
$41,300 (2012 est.)
$41,300 (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars
GDP - composition, by sector of originagriculture: 1.6%
industry: 28%
services: 70.4% (2013 est.)
Population below poverty line5.5% (2009)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 2.9%
highest 10%: 27.2% (2000)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 5%
industry: 19%
services: 76% (2011 est.)
Exports - commoditiesmachinery and equipment, computers, chemicals, medical devices, pharmaceuticals; food products, animal products
Exports - partnersUS 17.9%, UK 17.3%, Belgium 15.6%, Germany 8.4%, Switzerland 5.8%, France 5% (2012)
Agriculture - productsbarley, potatoes, wheat; beef, dairy products
Budgetrevenues: $75.32 billion
expenditures: $91.3 billion (2013 est.)
Imports - commoditiesdata processing equipment, other machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum and petroleum products, textiles, clothing
Imports - partnersUK 39.8%, US 13.2%, Germany 7.6%, Netherlands 5.7% (2012)
Exchange rateseuros (EUR) per US dollar -
0.7634 (2013 est.)
0.7752 (2012 est.)
0.755 (2010 est.)
0.7198 (2009 est.)
0.6827 (2008 est.)
Exports$113.6 billion (2013 est.)
$119.3 billion (2012 est.)
Debt - external$2.164 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)
$2.213 trillion (31 December 2011)
Fiscal yearcalendar year
Imports$61.51 billion (2013 est.)
$63.63 billion (2012 est.)
Industrial production growth rate0.2% (2013 est.)
Industriespharmaceuticals, chemicals, computer hardware and software, food products, beverages and brewing; medical devices
Inflation rate (consumer prices)0.6% (2013 est.)
1.7% (2012 est.)
Labor force2.161 million (2013 est.)
Unemployment rate13.5% (2013 est.)
14.7% (2012 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index33.9 (2010)
35.9 (1987)
Public debt124.2% of GDP (2013 est.)
117.6% of GDP (2012 est.)
note: data cover general government debt, and includes debt instruments issued (or owned) by government entities other than the treasury; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include debt issued by subnational entities, as well as intra-governmental debt; intra-governmental debt consists of treasury borrowings from surpluses in the social funds, such as for retirement, medical care, and unemployment; debt instruments for the social funds are not sold at public auctions
Current account balance$7.3 billion (2013 est.)
$9.245 billion (2012 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$1.707 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
$1.703 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate)$220.9 billion (2013 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$777.3 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$725.8 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$792.6 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$766 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares$109 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
$108.1 billion (31 December 2011)
$60.45 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
Central bank discount rate0.75% (31 December 2013)
1.5% (31 December 2010)
note: this is the European Central Bank's rate on the marginal lending facility, which offers overnight credit to banks in the euro area
Commercial bank prime lending rate3.2% (31 December 2013 est.)
3.55% (31 December 2012 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$425.4 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$433.1 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Stock of narrow money$121.3 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$122.3 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
note: see entry for the European Union for money supply in the euro area; the European Central Bank (ECB) controls monetary policy for the 17 members of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU); individual members of the EMU do not control the quantity of money circulating within their own borders
Stock of broad money$238 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$238.7 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Taxes and other revenues34.1% of GDP (2013 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-7.2% of GDP (2013 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 50.2%
government consumption: 14.8%
investment in fixed capital: 10%
investment in inventories: 0%
exports of goods and services: 106.8%
imports of goods and services: -81.9%
(2013 est.)
Gross national saving13.4% of GDP (2013 est.)
15.3% of GDP (2012 est.)
12.5% of GDP (2011 est.)