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flag Ireland Ireland: Economic and Political Outline

In this page: Economic Indicators | Foreign Trade in Figures | Sources of General Economic Information | Political Outline


Economic Indicators

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 Indicators 20112012201320142015 (e)
GDP (billions USD) 237.99222.09232.15245.82e252.64
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) 2.8-
GDP per Capita (USD) 52,02148,4344851,15952,260
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -6.5-5.1-4.1-3.3e-2.2
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 98.9111.4116.1112.4111.7
Inflation Rate (%)
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labor Force) 14.614.713.011.210.5
Current Account (billions USD) 1.923.4710.148.106.09
Current Account (in % of GDP)

Source: IMF - World Economic Outlook Database , Last Available Data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

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).

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 4.7 18.3 76.9
Value Added (in % of GDP) 1.6 24.1 74.3
Value Added (Annual % Change) 13.5 -0.1 -0.7

Source: World Bank - Last Available Data.

Monetary Indicators 20092010201120122013
Euro (EUR) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD 0.720.760.720.780.76

Source: CIA - The world factbook - Last Available Data.


Learn more about Market Analyses about Ireland on, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

Indicator of Economic Freedom


The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

Mostly Free
World Rank:
Regional Rank:

Distribution of Economic freedom in the world
Source: 2014 Index of Economic freedom, Heritage Foundation


Business environment ranking


The business rankings model measures the quality or attractiveness of the business environment in the 82 countries covered by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Country Forecast reports. It examines ten separate criteria or categories, covering the political environment, the macroeconomic environment, market opportunities, policy towards free enterprise and competition, policy towards foreign investment, foreign trade and exchange controls, taxes, financing, the labour market and infrastructure.

World Rank:

Source: The Economist - Business Environment Rankings 2014-2018


Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.


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Foreign Trade in Figures

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.

Foreign Trade Indicators 20092010201120122013
Imports of Goods (million USD) 62,70460,27766,60662,76965,112
Exports of Goods (million USD) 115,928116,497125,740117,227114,188
Imports of Services (million USD) 104,199107,155115,554111,894117,096
Exports of Services (million USD) 92,11297,905112,779115,682123,603
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -9.23.0-
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 72.378.277.485.184.5
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 87.195.797.7105.6105.3
Trade Balance (million USD) 55,44756,66860,27755,69349,990
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) 35,61938,46248,78250,77950,691
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 159.4173.9175.1190.8189.8

Source: WTO - World Trade Organization ; World Bank , Last Available Data


Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
United States 21.2%
United Kingdom 16.1%
Belgium 12.9%
Germany 7.6%
Switzerland 5.9%
See More Countries 36.4%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
United Kingdom 33.6%
United States 10.5%
Germany 8.2%
China 6.0%
Netherlands 5.4%
See More Countries 36.3%

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data


Main Products

- bn USD of products exported in 2013
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses incl. those in the form of transdermal administration or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 15.7%
Heterocyclic compounds with nitrogen hetero-atom[s...Heterocyclic compounds with nitrogen hetero-atom[s] only 13.1%
Mixtures of odoriferous substances and mixtures,...Mixtures of odoriferous substances and mixtures, incl. alcoholic solutions, based on one or more of these substances, of a kind used as raw materials in industry; other preparations based on odoriferous substances, of a kind used for the manufacture of beverages 6.4%
Human blood; animal blood prepared for therapeutic...Human blood; animal blood prepared for therapeutic, prophylactic or diagnostic uses; antisera and other blood fractions and modified immunological products, whether or not obtained by means of biotechnological processes; vaccines, toxins, cultures of micro-organisms (excl. yeasts) and similar products 5.4%
Orthopaedic appliances, incl. crutches, surgical...Orthopaedic appliances, incl. crutches, surgical belts and trusses; splints and other fracture appliances; artificial parts of the body; hearing aids and other appliances which are worn or carried, or implanted in the body, to compensate for a defect or disability 4.2%
See More Products 55.1%
- bn USD of products imported in 2013
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 6.1%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses incl. those in the form of transdermal administration or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 5.3%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 3.8%
Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbonsPetroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons 3.2%
Automatic data processing machines and units...Automatic data processing machines and units thereof; magnetic or optical readers, machines for transcribing data onto data media in coded form and machines for processing such data, n.e.s. 3.1%
See More Products 78.6%

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data

See More Products
More imports (Intracen Data)
More exports (Intracen Data)

Main Services

- bn USD of services exported in 2011
- bn USD of services imported in 2011

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data

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Sources of General Economic Information

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
Industrial Development Agency
Statistical Office
Central Statistics Office
Central Bank
European Central Bank
Central Bank and Financial Services Authority
Stock Exchange
Irish Stock Exchange
Search Engines
Browse Ireland
Ireland's Portal
Nice One
Economic Portals
The Economic and Social Research Institute

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Political Outline

Executive Power
President, chief of state and Prime Minister (Taoiseach), head of government.
Legislative Power
Bicameral national Parliament (Oireachtas): House of Representatives (Dail) and Senate (Seanad).
Main Political Parties
- Fianna Fail: represents the tradition that rejected the treaty because the present six counties of Northern Ireland were excluded from the outset.
- Fine Gael: Fine Gael represents the tradition that accepted the treaty as a stepping-stone to an eventual republic of the whole island.
- Others: Labor, Progressive Democrats, Green Party, Sinn Fein.
Current Political Leaders
President: Michael D. HIGGINS - Labor (since 29 October 2011)
Prime Minister: Enda KENNY (since 9 March 2011)
Next Election Dates
Presidential elections: October 2018
Parliamentary: 2016

Indicator of Freedom of the Press


The world rankings, published annually, measures the violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire sent to partner organizations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and activists of human rights, including the main criteria - 44 in total - to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
1 place down compared to 2013

Source: Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2014, Reporters Without Borders


Indicator of Political Freedom


The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Political Freedom:

Map of freedom 2014
Source: Freedom House


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Last Updates: October 2014