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Ireland Economy

    Economy—overview: Ireland is a small, modern, trade-dependent economy with growth averaging 9.5% in 1995-98. Agriculture, once the most important sector, is now dwarfed by industry, which accounts for 39% of GDP, about 80% of exports, and employs 28% of the labor force. Although exports remain the primary engine for Ireland's robust growth, the economy is also benefiting from a rise in consumer spending and recovery in both construction and business investment. Over the past decade, the Irish government has implemented a series of national economic programs designed to curb inflation, reduce government spending, and promote foreign investment. Although the unemployment rate has been halved, it remains high, and job creation is a primary concern of government policy. Recent efforts have concentrated on improving workers qualifications and the education system. Ireland joined in launching the euro currency system in January 1999 along with 10 other EU nations.

    GDP: purchasing power parity—$67.1 billion (1998 est.)

    GDP—real growth rate: 9.5% (1998 est.)

    GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$18,600 (1998 est.)

    GDP—composition by sector:
    agriculture: 7%
    industry: 39%
    services: 54% (1997)

    Population below poverty line: NA%

    Household income or consumption by percentage share:
    lowest 10%: 2.5%
    highest 10%: 27.4% (1987)

    Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.4% (1998)

    Labor force: 1.52 million (1997 est.)

    Labor force—by occupation: services 62.1%, manufacturing and construction 27%, agriculture, forestry, and fishing 10%, utilities 0.9% (1996 est.)

    Unemployment rate: 7.7% (1998 est.)

    revenues: $23.5 billion
    expenditures: $20.6 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1998)

    Industries: food products, brewing, textiles, clothing, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, machinery, transportation equipment, glass and crystal

    Industrial production growth rate: 15.8% (1998 est.)

    Electricity—production: 17.843 billion kWh (1996)

    Electricity—production by source:
    fossil fuel: 95.83%
    hydro: 3.99%
    nuclear: 0%
    other: 0.18% (1996)

    Electricity—consumption: 17.743 billion kWh (1996)

    Electricity—exports: 200 million kWh (1996)

    Electricity—imports: 100 million kWh (1996)

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

    Exports: $60.9 billion (f.o.b., 1998)

    Exports—commodities: chemicals, data processing equipment, industrial machinery, live animals, animal products (1997)

    Exports—partners: EU 67% (UK 24%, Germany 12%, France 8%), US 11% (1997)

    Imports: $43.7 billion (c.i.f., 1998)

    Imports—commodities: food, animal feed, data processing equipment, petroleum and petroleum products, machinery, textiles, clothing (1997)

    Imports—partners: EU 55% (UK 34%, Germany 6%, France 6%), US 15% (1997)

    Debt—external: $11 billion (1998)

    Economic aid—donor: ODA, $153 million (1995)

    Currency: 1 Irish pound (�Ir) = 100 pence

    Exchange rates: Irish pounds (�Ir) per US$1—0.6815 (January 1999), 0.7014 (1998), 0.6588 (1997), 0.6248 (1996), 0.6235 (1995), 0.6676 (1994)
    note: on 1 January 1999, the European Union introduced a common currency that is now being used by financial institutions in some member countries at the rate of 0.8597 euros per US$ and a fixed rate of 0.78764 Irish pounds per euro; the euro will replace the local currency in consenting countries for all transactions in 2002

    Fiscal year: calendar year

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Revised 1-Mar-99
Copyright © 1999 Photius Coutsoukis (all rights reserved)