The industrial sector dominates the Irish economy, accounting for 39% of Gross Domestic Product, around 90% of exports and 29% of total employment. The highest growth rates in Irish industry over recent years have been achieved in the high-technology sectors of manufacturing, where overseas investment has been attracted by combination of tax and grant incentives, as well as Ireland’s location within the European Single Market and the availability of a highly-skilled-labour pool. Within this high
technology grouping, the most impressive growth has been achieved in the computer sector,with quite a number of world-leading companies now located in Ireland. There has also been a considerable expansion of output in sectors such as pharmaceuticals and engineering. Even in non-high-technology industries, performance has been quite impressive by comparison with other EU countries. The World Competitiveness Report, which ranks the competitiveness of 46 industrialised countries, puts Ireland in eleventh place.
Three agencies deal with industrial development in Ireland. Forfásprovides overall policy co-ordindation. Enterprise Irelandhelps develop Irish based enterprise with the potential to trade internationally and the Industrial Development Agency (IDA Ireland) attracts overseas companies and helps develop their operations in Ireland.
There are over 1,100 overseas-owned manufacturing/international services companies in Ireland including over 450 from the US, 175 from Germany and 160 from the UK. Overseas-owned companies employ about 108,000 people and account for some 70% of total manufactured exports.
The Industrial Development Agency focuses particularly on electronics, health care/pharamaceuticals, sofeware, data processing, telemarketing and financial services.