A European success story
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.

Although 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 Ireland’s public and private sectors have used to draw the nation out of economic obscurity and earn it the nickname ‘The Celtic Tiger’.
“We’ve 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 we’ve 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

As a result, over the past decade the nation has become a Mecca for information technology and communication firms looking to tap into Ireland’s 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.

Earlier this year the unemployment rate in Ireland fell to its lowest level in 20 years, further heightening fears that the nation’s booming economy and demands for higher wages would fuel inflation.
“I was finance minister three times so I’m a strong supporter of price stability,” Mr. Ahern says, acknowledging that inflation, which is running about 4%, “crept up on us.”
“That’s higher than I’d like it to be, so we’ll have to reel that in. But on the other hand, when you’re an economy growing at the rate we are, it’s hard to have everything,” the prime minister notes.

Current 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 don’t have good roads all over the country or public transportation accessible for everybody. We have to spend money to build that up or we’ll be looking at an economic slowdown five years from now,” Mr.
McCreevy warns

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT SUMMIT COMMUNICATIONS AT: 1040 FIRST AVENUE, SUITE 395, NEW YORK, NY 10022-2902. TEL: (212) 286-0034 FAX: (212) 286-8376 E-MAIL: info@summitreports.com