Ire Economy - 2021


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Economic overview

Ireland is a small, modern, trade-dependent economy. It 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 dropped sharply during the world financial crisis and the subsequent collapse of its domestic property market and construction industry during 2008-11. Faced with sharply reduced revenues and a burgeoning budget deficit from efforts to stabilize its fragile banking sector, the Irish Government introduced the first in a series of draconian budgets in 2009. 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. 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 banking sector and avoid defaulting on its sovereign debt. In March 2011, the KENNY government intensified austerity measures to meet the deficit targets under Ireland's EU-IMF bailout program.

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. In 2014, the economy rapidly picked up. In late 2014, the government introduced a fiscally neutral budget, marking the end of the austerity program. Continued growth of tax receipts has allowed the government to lower some taxes and increase public spending while keeping to its deficit-reduction targets. In 2015, GDP growth exceeded 26%. The magnitude of the increase reflected one-off statistical revisions, multinational corporate restructurings in intellectual property, and the aircraft leasing sector, rather than real gains in the domestic economy, which was still growing. Growth moderated to around 4.1% in 2017, but the recovering economy assisted lowering the deficit to 0.6% of GDP.

In the wake of the collapse of the construction sector and the downturn in consumer spending and business investment during the 2008-11 economic crisis, the export sector, dominated by foreign multinationals, has become an even more important component of Ireland's economy. Ireland’s low corporation tax of 12.5% and a talented pool of high-tech laborers have been some of the key factors in encouraging business investment. Loose tax residency requirements made Ireland a common destination for international firms seeking to pay less tax or, in the case of U.S. multinationals, defer taxation owed to the United States. In 2014, amid growing international pressure, the Irish government announced it would phase in more stringent tax laws, effectively closing a commonly used loophole. The Irish economy continued to grow in 2017 and is forecast to do so through 2019, supported by a strong export sector, robust job growth, and low inflation, to the point that the Government must now address concerns about overheating and potential loss of competitiveness. The greatest risks to the economy are the UK’s scheduled departure from the European Union ("Brexit") in March 2019, possible changes to international taxation policies that could affect Ireland’s revenues, and global trade pressures.

Real GDP growth rate

5.86% (2019 est.)

9.42% (2018 est.)

9.49% (2017 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

0.9% (2019 est.)

0.4% (2018 est.)

0.3% (2017 est.)

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: A+ (2017)

Moody's rating: A2 (2017)

Standard & Poors rating: AA- (2019)

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$428.825 billion (2019 est.)

$406.277 billion (2018 est.)

$375.592 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$398.476 billion (2019 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$86,781 (2019 est.)

$83,471 (2018 est.)

$78,128 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

Gross national saving

35.9% of GDP (2019 est.)

34.4% of GDP (2018 est.)

34.2% of GDP (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 1.2% (2017 est.)

industry: 38.6% (2017 est.)

services: 60.2% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 34% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 10.1% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 23.4% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 1.2% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 119.9% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -89.7% (2017 est.)

Ease of Doing Business Index scores

Overall score: 79.6 (2020)

Starting a Business score: 94.4 (2020)

Trading score: 87.2 (2020)

Enforcement score: 57.9 (2020)

Agricultural products

milk, barley, beef, wheat, potatoes, pork, oats, poultry, mushrooms/truffles, mutton


pharmaceuticals, chemicals, computer hardware and software, food products, beverages and brewing; medical devices

Industrial production growth rate

7.8% (2017 est.)

Labor force

2.289 million (2020 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 5%

industry: 11%

services: 84% (2015 est.)

Unemployment rate

4.98% (2019 est.)

5.78% (2018 est.)

Population below poverty line

13.1% (2018 est.)

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

32.8 (2016 est.)

35.9 (1987 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.9%

highest 10%: 27.2% (2000)


revenues: 86.04 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 87.19 billion (2017 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

26% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-0.3% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Public debt

68.6% of GDP (2017 est.)

73.6% of GDP (2016 est.)

note: data cover general government debt and include 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 intragovernmental debt; intragovernmental 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

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$44.954 billion (2019 est.)

$24.154 billion (2018 est.)


$541.789 billion (2019 est.)

$489.89 billion (2018 est.)

$440.693 billion (2017 est.)

Exports - partners

United States 28%, Belgium 10%, Germany 10%, UK 9%, China 5%, Netherlands 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

medical cultures/vaccines, nitrogen compounds, packaged medicines, integrated circuits, scented mixtures (2019)


$489.957 billion (2019 est.)

$371.221 billion (2018 est.)

$359.725 billion (2017 est.)

Imports - partners

United Kingdom 31%, United States 16%, Germany 10%, Netherlands 5%, France 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

aircraft, computers, packaged medicines, refined petroleum, medical cultures/vaccines (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$4.412 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$2.203 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Debt - external

$2,829,303,000,000 (2019 est.)

$2,758,949,000,000 (2018 est.)

Exchange rates

euros (EUR) per US dollar -

0.82771 (2020 est.)

0.90338 (2019 est.)

0.87789 (2018 est.)

0.885 (2014 est.)

0.7634 (2013 est.)

NOTE: The information regarding Ire on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Ire 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Ire 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.