Ireland - Market Overview Ireland - Market Overview
The United States and Ireland enjoy a close cultural affinity and longstanding political, economic, and commercial relations. The strong U.S.-Ireland commercial (trade and investment) relationship, worth $825 billon, is significant by international standards and is particularly impressive relative to the country’s population of 4.8 million people.
With a GDP of $383 billion in 2018, Ireland is one of the most open, FDI and export-driven economies in the world. On the back of a recovering economy, Ireland remains a wealthy country and a net exporting nation with a per capita GDP in 2018 of $78,790. Job creation remains a priority for the Irish government with current unemployment at 4.5 percent from a high of 15.1 percent in early 2012.
Buoyed by a revitalized domestic economy and a strong export sector, Ireland’s GDP increased by 8.2 percent in 2018, reinforcing its position as one of the best performing economies in the EU for the past five years. Ireland’s economy is forecast to grow by just under 5 percent in 2019 based on an expected increase in exports, and steady domestic spending and demand.
Future growth is however difficult to predict as the country lies under the shadow of the United Kingdom’s planned exit from the EU and is set to be the country most impacted by its departure. The impact on Ireland’s economy will depend on whether the U.K. negotiates a deal with the EU for an October 31st departure or if a no deal Brexit occurs, increasing uncertainty for both Irish business and U.S. companies operating in Ireland.
In 2018, U.S. exports of goods to Ireland exceeded $10.8 billion and included chemicals and pharmaceuticals, computers and electronic products, aircraft and transportation equipment, power generation technology, medical devices, electrical equipment and travel and tourism. The most recent statistics for services from 2017 record the value of U.S. service exports to Ireland at $49.8 billion.
The over-sized U.S.-Ireland investment relationship is particularly noteworthy. The total stock of U.S. investment in Ireland reached $442.2 billion in 2018. There are over 700 U.S. firms in Ireland which currently employ 155,000 people representing 20 percent of total employment in the country.
Conversely, in 2018, Ireland’s total investment stock in the U.S. was valued at $237.7 billion, maintaining it’s ranking of the 9th largest source of FDI into the U.S. Over 450 Irish firms employ more than 100,000 across all 50 states representing investment in the agri-food/nutrition, construction, healthcare, ICT and professional and engineering services sectors.
U.S. Embassy Dublin works closely with local partners including the American Chamber of Commerce, Irish Exporters Association, Irish Business & Employers Confederation, Enterprise Ireland and other Irish government and national agencies together with local business associations to advance the U.S.-Irish economic relationship and forge joint prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic.
Top reasons why U.S. companies should consider exporting to Ireland:
U.S. companies can take advantage of the fact that Ireland is the only European market that is a member of the EU, a member of the Eurozone and English speaking. There is the advantage of a common language together with educated and well-connected business partners in a pro-business environment. Upon the expected United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union in 2019, Ireland along with Malta will be one of only two English-speaking countries in the European Union.
Ireland has, for the past number of years, been the fastest growing economy in Europe. Continued economic growth is expected to fuel increased demand for U.S. products and services. Growth however will be shaped by the type of Brexit withdrawal agreement that takes place post October 2019 and what the future trading relationship will look like post the U.K.’s exit from the EU.
Ireland is an excellent test market for American SMEs looking to export for the first time into Europe. Ireland’s strategic geographical location also positions the country as a gateway to Europe with access to a wider market of 741 million people.
Opportunities exist for innovative U.S. companies to enter into collaborative agreements with Irish companies particularly across Cybersecurity, ICT and Smart Cities, Energy encompassing LNG and SmartGrid, Healthcare/Medical Devices and eHealth services plus Travel & Tourism.
Ireland’s high receptiveness for U.S. products and services creates a fertile market for American brands across sectors. U.S. goods and technologies are perceived to be of high quality and U.S. companies receive positive support from local partners, helping to further export goals for Ireland and the European marketplace.