The Economy of Ireland

The Economy of Ireland

Irish Economy

Economy - overview: Ireland is a small, modern, trade-dependent economy. GDP growth averaged 6% in 1995-2007, but economic activity dropped sharply in 2008 and Ireland entered into a recession for the first time in more than a decade with the onset of the world financial crisis and subsequent severe slowdown in the property and construction markets. Agriculture, once the most important sector, is now dwarfed by industry and services. Although the export sector, dominated by foreign multinationals, remains a key component of Ireland's economy, construction most recently fueled economic growth along with strong consumer spending and business investment. Property prices rose more rapidly in Ireland in the decade up to 2006 than in any other developed world economy. Per capita GDP also surged during Ireland's high-growth years, and in 2007 surpassed that of the United States. The Irish Government has implemented a series of national economic programs designed to curb price and wage inflation, invest in infrastructure, increase labor force skills, and promote foreign investment. In 2008 the 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. Ireland joined in circulating the euro on 1 January 2002 along with 11 other EU nations.


GDP - real growth rate: -1.7% (2008 est.) 6% (2007 est.) 5.7% (2006 est.)

GDP - per capita:

GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 5% industry: 46% services: 49% (2002 est.)

Population below poverty line:

Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 2.9% highest 10%: 27.2% (2000)

Distribution of family income - Gini index: 32 (2005)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

Labor force: 2.27 million (2008 est.)

Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 6% industry: 27% services: 67% (2006 est.)

Unemployment rate: 6.2% (2008 est.)

Budget: revenues: $93.84 billion expenditures: $110.8 billion (2008 est.)

Industries: steel, lead, zinc, silver, aluminum, barite, and gypsum mining processing; food products, brewing, textiles, clothing; chemicals, pharmaceuticals; machinery, rail transportation equipment; glass and crystal; software, tourism

Industrial production growth rate: 5% (2007 est.)

Electricity - production: 25.77 billion kWh (2007 est.)

Electricity - production by source:

Electricity - consumption: 25.67 billion kWh (2006 est.)

Electricity - exports: 82 million kWh (2007 est.)

Electricity - imports: 1.412 billion kWh (2007 est.)

Oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2005 est.)

Oil - consumption: 200,900 bbl/day (2007 est.)

Oil - exports: 29,780 bbl/day (2005)

Oil - imports: 194,000 bbl/day (2005)

Oil - proved reserves: 0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)

Natural gas - production: 457 million cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - consumption: 4.984 billion cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - imports: 4.552 billion cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves: 9.911 billion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)

Agriculture - products: turnips, barley, potatoes, sugar beets, wheat; beef, dairy products

Exports: $128 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Exports - commodities: machinery and equipment, computers, chemicals, pharmaceuticals; live animals, animal products

Exports - partners: UK 18.7%, US 17.9%, Belgium 14.5%, Germany 7.4%, France 5.8% (2007)

Imports: $91.27 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Imports - commodities: data processing equipment, other machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum and petroleum products, textiles, clothing

Imports - partners: UK 38.3%, US 11.3%, Germany 9.7%, Netherlands 5%, France 4.2% (2007)

Debt - external: $1.841 trillion (30 June 2007)

Economic aid - recipient:


Currency code:

Exchange rates: euros (EUR) per US dollar - 0.6827 (2008 est.), 0.7345 (2007), 0.7964 (2006), 0.8041 (2005), 0.8054 (2004)

Fiscal year:

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