A European success
WITH IRELAND'S GDP AT AN ALL-TIME HIGH AND UNEMPLOYMENT AT A RECORD LOW, THE FUTURE FOR 'THE CELTIC TIGER' REMAINS BRIGHT THANKS TO MAJOR U.S. INVESTMENT AND A COMMITMENT TO EDUCATION AS THE FOUNDATION FOR GROWTH
Investment in tourism, training and technology has been a significant factor behind Ireland's boom.
it has been described as a miracle, the economic boom that Ireland
enjoys today could better be compared to the slow and steady pull of a perfect
pint of Guinness rather than divine intervention, although most Irish will argue
that there is little difference between the two.
The patience, care and craftsmanship required by Dublin barmen when pulling a perfect pint of stout are the same qualities that the movers and shakers of Irelands public and private sectors have used to draw the nation out of economic obscurity and earn it the nickname The Celtic Tiger.
Weve worked long and hard to try to get the fundamentals of the Irish economy correct, notes Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern. For the last 30 or 40 years weve spent a lot of money on education, even when resources were not so plentiful.
Irish GDP grew by 10.7% last year, easily the highest rate among EU countries
a result, over the past decade the nation has become a Mecca for information
technology and communication firms looking to tap into Irelands human
resource supply. Earlier this year, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
chose Ireland as the European location for its renowned MediaLab research center.
That attention to education, along with carefully targeted European Union funding and foreign investment coming mostly from the United States, has led to seven years of startling economic expansion. Real GDP growth reached 10.7% last year, by far the highest rate among EU countries, and is expected to grow between 3.5% and 7% over the next five years.
The agri-food sector, which includes agriculture, food, drinks and tobacco, will remain a key player in the Irish economy and currently accounts for 10.5% of total employment and 27% of net foreign earnings. Despite a brief setback sparked by the foot-and-mouth disease scare, which is now under control, we export in excess of 90% of what we produce to more than 60 countries, Agriculture, Food and Rural Development Minister Joe Walsh stresses.
this year the unemployment rate in Ireland fell to its lowest level in 20 years,
further heightening fears that the nations booming economy and demands
for higher wages would fuel inflation.
I was finance minister three times so Im a strong supporter of price stability, Mr. Ahern says, acknowledging that inflation, which is running about 4%, crept up on us.
Thats higher than Id like it to be, so well have to reel that in. But on the other hand, when youre an economy growing at the rate we are, its hard to have everything, the prime minister notes.
Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy, whose tax reduction policy helped give birth
to the Celtic Tiger, explains that sustainable economic growth will require
further public spending and outweighs inflationary risks.
Despite our recent economic success, we have a great lack of infrastructure. The Irish people are concerned that we dont have good roads all over the country or public transportation accessible for everybody. We have to spend money to build that up or well be looking at an economic slowdown five years from now, Mr.
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