If the global economy is going through a rough time at the moment, nobody told Ireland.
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has just announced the county’s GDP expanded 7.8% in 2015. Even better, in the last quarter it grew a massive 9.2%.
That’s the fastest growth rate in the whole of the EU — by far. It’s even more impressive given Ireland needed a €67 billion (£52 billion; $74.3 billion) bailout just two years ago.
So what gives? How did Ireland grow so fast last year when the UK only managed 2.2% — a number that was still better than most other developed nations.
There are four simple but important reasons:
- A huge jump in exports — Irish exports increased by almost 20% in last year to over €111 billion (£86.27; $123) in 2015. Pharmaceuticals, chemicals, medical equipment and cosmetics were the most popular products leaving Ireland’s shores.
- Irish people are buying even more things — Consumer spending in the country was in rude health in 2015, at €22,6 billion (£17.5 billion; $25.1 billion) a 3.5% jump from the year before. Over €2.4 billion (£1.9 billion; $2.7 billion) of that was ordered online and delivered directly to Irish homes.
- The Irish government is spending less — Ireland’s 2015 government expenditure dropped by almost 7% compared to 2014, with the vast majority going on welfare, health and education.
- People really like investing in Ireland — compared to last year, capital investments jumped a massive 28% compared to 2014. A late 2015 venture capital report by Inter Trade Ireland said that the number of venture capital funds operating in Ireland had more than doubled, while the average size of funds had jumped from €20 million (£15.5 million; $22.2 million) to €100 million (£77.6 million; $111 million).
China’s recent slowdown has made a lot of people paranoid, and some analysts are worried about an Irish economic bubble. But the Financial Times notes that the nature of the growth is much more stable than the Irish construction boom of the late 90s because it’s based on strong exports and foreign investment.
The growth also marks another EU success story that pro Brexit commentators — people who want the UK to leave the EU — would probably rather ignore.