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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
IRELAND: 1994 COUNTRY REPORT ON ECONOMIC POLICY AND TRADE PRACTICES
BUREAU OF ECONOMIC AND BUSINESS AFFAIRS





                             IRELAND

                     Key Economic Indicators
        (Millions of U.S. dollars unless otherwise noted)


                                    1992      1993      1994 1/

Income, Production and Employment:

Real GDP 2/                       45,339    42,482    43,296
Real GDP Growth Rate (pct.)          4.9      -0.7       1.5
GDP (at current prices) 2/
By Sector:
  Agriculture/Forestry/Fishing     4,286     3,752       N/A
  Industry                        17,109    15,809       N/A
  Distribution/Transport/
    Communication                  7,572     7,280       N/A
  Public Administration/Defense    2,676     2,502       N/A
  Other Domestic                  15,633    14,777       N/A
  Adjustment for Financial
    Services                      -1,936    -1,638       N/A
  GDP at Factor Cost              45,339    42,482       N/A
  Plus Taxes on Expenditure        8,128     7,158       N/A
  Less Subsidies                  -2,487    -2,497       N/A
  GDP at Market Prices            50,978    47,143    53,607
  Exports of Goods and Services   31,744    29,828    33,877
Real Per Capita GDP               21,712    18,207    18,555
Labor Force (000's) 3/             1,364     1,378     1,391
Unemployment Rate (standardized)    15.5     15.75     15.25

Money and Prices: (annual percentage growth)

Money Supply (M3) (year-end)         9.0      22.3       8.4
(year-to-year pct. change)                             (Aug)
Associated Banks' Prime                                     
Lending Rate (avg.)                19.00      7.19      5.81
                                                      (Sept)
Commercial Interest Rates                             
  Over 1 Year-Up to 3 Years (avg)  15.25     10.25      8.90
                                                      (July)
Savings Interest Rate               6.50-     0.75-     0.50-
  Investment Share Accounts        10.75      4.00      3.00
                                                      (July)
Investment Rate:                            
  1-Year to Maturity               13.13      5.74      6.16
                                                      (July)
  10-Year to Maturity              10.12      6.26      8.44
                                                      (July)
Consumer Price Index               108.2     109.8     117.1
  (base 1985 as 100)                               (2nd qtr)
Retail Sales Index                 106.2     109.4     116.2
  (base 1990 Aa 100)                               (2nd qtr)
 Wholesale Price Index             106.4       N/A       N/A
  (base 1985 as 100)
Exchange Rate ($/IP)                1.70      1.46      1.53
                                                   (3rd qtr)
Balance of Payments and Trade:

Total Exports (FOB) 4/            27,853    28,378    32,240
  Exports to U.S. 5/               2,260     2,500       N/A
Total Imports (CIF) 4/            22,137    21,348    24,156
  Imports from U.S. 5/             2,860     2,700       N/A
Aid from the E.U. (000s) 6/       19,465    17,520    18,360
Aid from the U.S. (000s)          15,590    19,211    19,600
Gross Public Sector Foreign Debt  18,455    17,922    18,918
  (external government debt)
Debt Service Payments (paid)       4,004     3,489       N/A
Gold and Foreign Exch. Reserves    5,535     6,246     6,850
  (official external reserves)                        (June)
Trade Balance                      5,716     7,030     8,084
  Trade Balance with U.S.            600       200       N/A


N/A--Not available.

1/ Forecasts.
2/ GDP at factor cost.
3/ Annual averages.
4/ Merchandise trade.
5/ U.S. Department of Commerce figures.
6/ Aid from the European Union for the years 1995 through 1997
will be increased to USD 24 million per year following the
ceasefires in Northern Ireland.

Sources:  Central Bank of Ireland (CBI); Central Statistics
Office (CSO); Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI);
Irish Trade Board (ITB); Department of Enterprise and
Employment (DEE).


1.  General Policy Framework

    Ireland has a small open economy which is very dependent on
trade.  Exports of goods and services in 1993 were equivalent
to 77 percent of GNP, while imports were equivalent to 61
percent of GNP.  Government policies are generally formulated
to facilitate trade and inward direct investment.  Ireland has
a market economy, which is based primarily on private
ownership.  Government ownership and control of companies
generally occurs in those sectors which are considered by the
government to be natural monopolies, those in which the state
has stepped in to assist failing firms, or those of special
importance to the economy.  In the majority of cases,
government owned firms are operated on a commercial basis, and
may be in competition with privately owned firms in the same
sector.  In recent years the government has reduced its share
holding in a number of companies which are considered viable. 
Government policy is heavily influenced by sustained high
unemployment, 15 percent seasonally adjusted in September
1994.  A young and growing work force will continue to put
pressure on the labor market in Ireland through the end of the
century and emigration will likely continue at a significant
scale.

    Fiscal Policy:  In 1993, Ireland's government debt was
approximately IP 30 billion, of which about IP 12 billion was
denominated in foreign currencies.  The debt has generally been
financed by the sale of government securities.  The vast
majority of the debt was accumulated in the 1970's and early
1980's, partly as a result of oil price shocks, but more
generally as a result of expanding social welfare programs and
government employment.  The debt grew rapidly in the late
1970's and early 1980's due to increased interest rates and
large government deficits.  However, successive governments
have made considerable progress during the past seven years in
reducing budget deficits and containing the growth of total
debt.

    Ireland ratified the Uruguay Round agreement and is a
founding member of the World Trade Organization.  

    In recent years, most collective bargaining in Ireland has
taken place in the context of a national economic program.  A
new program, the Program for Competitiveness and Work (PCW) was
agreed to by representatives of government, unions, employers
and farmers in February 1994 and was a major element of the
government's success in fostering economic growth.  The PCW is
Ireland's third centralized pay agreement and replaces the
Program for Economic and Social Progress (PESP) which expired
in December 1993.  These programs are credited with providing a
favorable economic climate for strong growth in Irish GNP since
1987.  The PCW contains similar provisions to the previous
programs for moderate wage increases and improvements in
government finances.  Government budget deficits fell
dramatically while exports, investment and consumer spending
showed strong growth.  Unemployment has begun to decline, but,
the expanding Irish economy is unlikely to make a significant
impact on Ireland's high unemployment rate.  The Irish
labor-economic environment is remarkably open.  With over a
half-million Irish working outside Ireland, particularly in the
U.K., the robust economy usually attracts home many emigres
offsetting any temporary reduction in unemployment due to
emigration.  Projections for 1994 indicate that government
borrowing will be about 2.7 percent of GNP.

    Irish tax policies have a major effect on personal
consumption and demand for imported goods.  Personal income tax
rates are high in Ireland.  Over the last few years, in
conjunction with the massive reduction in public borrowing
which was achieved, the government made substantial progress in
reducing the standard and higher income tax rates by six
points.  Income tax rates did not change in the 1994 budget,
however, and remain at 27 and 48 percent.  Approximately 62
percent of Irish tax payers are in the 27 percent standard rate
bracket.  The controversial one percent income levy which was
introduced in the 1993 budget was abolished in 1994.  Irish
value added tax (VAT) rates are among the highest in the
European Union (EU) and were streamlined in the 1993 budget,
and remain unchanged.  The standard corporate income tax rate
in Ireland is 40 percent.  Manufacturing firms and many
exporting firms pay only 10 percent on corporate income under
special arrangements designed to boost industrial development.

    Monetary Policy:  Ireland's monetary policies are aimed
primarily at maintaining exchange rate stability within the
European Monetary System (EMS), which Ireland joined in 1979. 
Interest rates are the predominate tool used by the Central
Bank to affect monetary variables.


2.  Exchange Rate Policies

    Until 1979, the Irish pound was pegged to the pound
sterling.  In March 1979, Ireland joined the Exchange Rate
Mechanism (ERM) of the EMS and broke its link to the British
currency.  It has, however, endeavored to maintain a stable
competitive exchange rate against sterling due to the large
amount of trade between Ireland and the U.K.  Following changes
to the ERM in August, 1993, membership in the ERM now involves
a commitment to maintain the Irish currency within a 15 percent
band against other ERM currencies.  The Irish pound has been
adjusted downward three times since Ireland joined the EMS. 
Adjustments were 3.5 percent in 1983, 8.0 percent in 1986 and
10 percent in 1993.  As part of the Common Agricultural Policy
(CAP) of the EU, Ireland has maintained multiple exchange rates
(known as green currency exchange rates) on agricultural goods
subject to the CAP.  Devaluation of these rates usually mirror
those of the Irish currency.

    In accordance with Ireland's EU obligations the removal of
all remaining existing exchange controls took place in December
1992, bringing to an end the Irish Exchange Controls Act of
1954-1990.  New legislation was introduced in order to ensure,
among other things, that the government can continue to impose
financial sanctions (i.e. on Iraq and the former Yuguslavia)
under its international obligations.

    Ireland is a signatory to Article VIII of the International
Monetary Fund Agreement, regarding freedom of current payments
(including payments for goods and services imported) between
residents and non-residents.  In addition, Ireland subscribes
to the Code of Liberalization of Capital Movements and the Code
of Liberalization of Current Invisible Operations of the OECD.


3.  Structural Policies

    In October 1991, the Irish Government adopted a new
Competition Act.  The legislation marks a shift from the
previous system of restrictive practices orders and
administrative control, to a system which allows claims of
anticompetitive behavior to be pursued in the courts.  As a
result, the government has revoked price controls on petroleum
products and all other restrictive practice orders.  Controls
on below cost selling of grocery and food items do exist.

    Tax Policies:  The Irish tax system for corporations favors
manufacturing and exporting companies.  Those companies pay
income tax of only 10 percent, compared to the normal rate of
40 percent.  This gap encourages the development of export and
manufacturing industries, and discourages growth in other
industries.  The 10 percent corporate tax rate (manufacturing
companies) has been extended by the government to the year
2010.  Personal income tax rates are relatively high,
encouraging tax avoidance at all income levels, which has led
to the creation of a "black economy" estimated at between IP
1.5 and 3 billion, or between five and ten percent of GNP.

    In the 1994 budget, the standard rate tax band was extended
from USD 23,486 to USD 25,092 for a married couple and from
USD 11,743 to USD 12,546 for a single person.  Together with
improvements in personal allowances, this resulted in the
threshold for the higher tax rate, in the case of most
employees, being increased to USD 33,945 if married, and
USD 17,803 if single.  While these measures help some lower
paid workers, the middle income class still bears a heavy tax
burden.  Many pay an additional 7.75 percent of their earnings
for a variety of social security programs.  Value-added tax
(VAT) rates are among the highest in the European Union (EU)
and were streamlined in the 1994 budget.  The national standard
rate of VAT remains at 21 percent.  The lowest VAT rate of 12.5
percent is to be maintained for labor intensive services,
including the construction sector.  A zero or 2.5 percent rate,
however, will apply to certain items.  VAT rates and many
excise taxes are the subject of harmonization in the EU.  The
completion of the Single Market has eased the movement of
products between EU member states and has, since January 1,
1993, eliminated many customs controls in Ireland for items of
EU origin.

    Regulatory Policies:  Government investment incentives are
weighted in favor of high technology, export oriented
companies.  Capital grants by the Irish Industrial Development
Authority (IDA) reportedly have tended to favor capital
intensive investments over labor intensive ones.


4.  Debt Management Policies

    Ireland's total exchequer debt amounted to about IP 30
billion, or about 102 percent of estimated 1993 GNP, from 99.6
percent at end-1992.  The increase is attributable to the
adjustment of the Irish pound within the exchange rate
mechanism (ERM).  The downward trend in the debt/GNP ratio in
evidence each year, from 125 percent in 1987, is expected to
resume in 1994 and is now on line to achieve the 60 percent
target set by the Maastricht Treaty.  While the debt has
continued to grow in nominal terms, it has fallen significantly
as a percentage of GNP since 1987.  The foreign portion of the
debt is IP 12.2 billion.  As of June 1994, 15.6 percent of
foreign debt was dollar denominated, 25.6 percent was in
deutsch marks, 16.9 percent in Swiss francs, 11.2 percent in
Japanese yen, 10.3 percent was in Sterling, 8.7 percent in
European currency units (ECU), and lesser amounts in Dutch
guilders, French francs, and Austrian schillings.  Debt service
costs in 1993 were USD 3.5 billion, about 10.9 percent of
estimated Irish exports of goods and services and about 8.4
percent of GNP.  In 1991 the government created an independent
agency to manage the debt, the National Treasury Management
Agency (NTMA).


5.  Significant Barriers to U.S. Exports

    Ireland maintains a limited number of barriers to U.S.
services trade.  Airlines serving Ireland may provide their own
ground handling services, but are prohibited from providing
ground handling services to other airlines.

    The Irish banking and insurance sectors are slowly becoming
deregulated.  Full deregulation in insurance will not occur
until 1998.  An immediate opportunity for U.S. companies exists
in the Dublin International Financial Services Center (IFSC). 
This center offers interested U.S. companies the opportunity to
establish an EU financial base.  The IFSC is attracting
international financial services such as asset financing,
captive insurance, fund and investment management, and
corporate treasury measurement.  Qualified financial services
companies have a maximum tax of 10 percent, guaranteed by the
government through the year 2005.  The deadline for granting
IFSC licences is December 31, 1994.  The special corporation
tax rate of 10 percent applies in the IFSC until the end of
2005, but the EU deadline means only companies obtaining
licences before December 31, 1994 will qualify for the special
tax rate.  The United States has the second largest
representation at the IFSC with approximately 45 projects.

    Exchange controls on foreign travel by Irish citizens have
been eliminated.  Although they have been liberalized in recent
years, Ireland still maintains some of the strictest animal and
plant health import restrictions in the EU.  These, together
with EU import duties, effectively exclude many meat based
foods, fresh vegetables and other agricultural products.

    The EU directive on broadcasting activities was adopted on
October 3, 1989.  The primary purpose of the directive is to
promote the free flow of broadcasting services across national
boundaries.  Separately, the Council of Europe agreed to a
convention on transfrontier broadcasting which is largely the
same as the EU directive.  The main components of the directive
are (a) general provisions which require member states to
ensure freedom of reception of broadcasts from other member
states; (b) provisions for the promotion of distribution and
production of television programs; (c) provisions for
advertising, sponsorship, the protection of minors, and right
of reply.  Many of the provisions of the directive have been
transposed into law under the Broadcasting Act, 1990.  Two sets
of statutory regulations were used to transpose the remaining
provisions, as follows.  (1) The EU Communities (Television
Broadcasting) Regulations, 1991 Directive requires broadcasters
to reserve a majority of broadcast time for productions of EU
origin and to reserve at least 10 percent of transmission time
or budget for independently produced European programs.  (2)
The Wireless Telegraphy (Television Program Retransmission and
Relay) Regulations 1991 amends the regulations under which
cable and multichannel microwave distribution systems (MMDS)
licenses are issued.  In short, MMDS operators will no longer
require approval in advance of relaying a service.  The Irish
government is concerned about minority languages and cultures,
but has not been a major player on this issue.


6.  Export Subsidies Policies

    Export sales relief (ESR) was discontinued in April 1990 in
line with Ireland's EU obligations.  Companies manufacturing
goods in Ireland benefit from a reduced rate of corporation tax
of 10 percent on their profits.  Stockholders of companies
eligible for this program paid income tax of only 10 percent on
dividends received from the company, rather than the normal tax
rate (27-48 percent).  This program will expire at the end of
the year 2010.  There are no tax or duty exemptions on imported
inputs except for those companies located in the Shannon Duty
Free processing zone and Ringaskiddy Port.  Ringaskiddy is
Ireland's major deep water port located in the Cork harbor
complex.  The Shannon Duty Free processing zone benefits from
the reduced rate of corporation tax of 10 percent, while
Ringaskiddy does not.  No duties are levied at Shannon Free
Zone on goods destined for non-EU countries.

    The Irish Trade Board (Bord Trachtala), provides a single,
integrated range of marketing support services for companies
selling in Ireland and developing export sales.  As of 
January 1, 1992, the government provides export credit
insurance for political risk and medium-term commercial risk in
accordance with OECD guidelines.  Export credit insurance for
short-term commercial risk is available from the private
insurance sector.  As a participant in the Common Agricultural
Policy (CAP) of the EU, the Irish Department of Agriculture
Food & Forestry administers CAP export refund and exchange rate
programs on behalf of the EU Commission.


7.  Protection of U.S. Intellectual Property

    Ireland supports strong protection for intellectual
property rights.  The government encourages foreign investment,
especially in high tech industries.  Consequently, protection
of intellectual property rights has been an important part of
the government's business policy.  Protection is generally on a
par with other developed countries in Europe, and the
government is responsive to problems which arise.

    Patents:  Following the enactment in February, 1992 of the
Patents Act, 1992, Ireland ratified the European Patent
Convention and the Patent Cooperation Treaty.  The Convention
and the Treaty entered into force, as did the 1992 Patents Act,
on August 1, 1992.  The Act updates national law in a number of
important respects and the substantive law is in line with that
of other European countries that have harmonized their laws on
the basis of the European Patent Convention. The new
legislation will also facilitate speedier processing of patent
applications; it provides for a patent term of 20 years and
contains provision for the grant of short-term patents (half
the duration of the normal patent) in the interest of
small/medium innovators.  Legislation extending the term of
protection of products covered by medicinal patents came into
force on January 2, 1993, S.I. 125 of 1993.  The amendment of
the Constitution approved by the referendum held in June 1992
has cleared the way for Ireland's ratification of the agreement
relating to EU patents.

    Trademarks:  Existing trademark legislation in Ireland does
not specifically cover service industry trademarks, although
some court cases have extended protection to trademarks in
service industries.  

    Copyrights:  Copyright protection in Ireland is generally
considered to be good.  However, industry sources have
indicated that penalties for infringement of copyrights on 
video tapes are not sufficiently severe to curb pirating.  The
entire copyright system is under review and new copyright
legislation will be introduced in 1995.  EU directives will be
included in the new legislation.


8.  Worker Rights

    a.  The Right of Association

    Irish Workers have the right to associate freely and to
strike.  The right to join a union is guaranteed by law, as is
the right to refrain from joining.  The Industrial Relations
Act of 1990 provides members and officials of unions immunities
for industrial actions taken with regard to terms or conditions
of employment.  The Act contains some limitations on
picketing.  A code of practice, drawn up by the Labor Relations
Commission, was introduced by the government in June, 1993.  It
lays down guidelines of duties and responsibilities of employee
representatives and the protection and facilities to be granted
to them by employers.

    About 48 percent of all private sector workers and 52
percent of all public sector workers are trade union members. 
Police and military personnel are prohibited from joining
unions or striking, but they may form associations to represent
them in matters of pay, working conditions, and general
welfare.The right to strike is freely exercised in both the
public and private sectors.

    The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), which represents
unions in both the Republic and Northern Ireland, has 68 member
unions with 681,138 members.  Mergers have steadily reduced the
number of unions affiliated to the ICTU in recent years, but
union membership numbers are up by 20,000 since 1987.  Both the
ICTU and the unaffiliated unions are independent of the
government and of the political parties.  The ICTU is
affiliated with the European Trade Union Confederation.

    b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

    Labor unions have full freedom to organize and to engage in
free collective bargaining.  Legislation prohibits antiunion
discrimination.  In recent years, most terms and conditions of
employment in Ireland are determined through collective
bargaining in the context of a national economic program. 
Representatives of government, unions, employers and farmers
agreed to a new program, the Program for Competitiveness and
Work (PCW) in February 1994.  It was a major element of the
government's success in fostering economic growth.  The PCW is
Ireland's third centralized pay agreement in recent years and
replaces the PESP which expired in 1993.  These programs are
credited with providing a favorable economic climate for the
strong growth in Irish GNP since 1987.  The declared aim of the
new program, which provides for pay raises amounting to eight
percent over three years to employees in the public and private
sectors, is to help create a substantial number of new jobs. 
Pay increases in the private sector will be calculated on the
basis of 2 percent of basic pay for the first 12 months of the
Agreement; 2.5 percent for the second 12 months; 2.5 percent
for the first six months of the third year; and 1 percent for
the second six months of the third year.  In the public sector,
pay increases will be calculated on the basis of 2 percent of
basic pay for 12 months starting five months after the expiry
date of the PESP pay agreement; 2 percent for the next twelve
months; 1.5 percent for the next four months; 1.5 percent for
the next three months; and 1 percent for the remaining six
months of the Agreement.  The government expects the plan to
help increase employment by 60,000 over the next three years. 
It also plans to create 100,000 jobs for the unemployed in
community work schemes.  Of critical importance to unions and
employers are the moderate pay elements of the PCW and the
promise of industrial peace.  The PCW has been ratified by all
the negotiating bodies.

    The Industrial Relations Act of 1990 established the Labor
Relations Commission which provides advice and conciliation
services in industrial disputes.  The Commission may refer
unresolved disputes to the Labor Court.  The Labor Court,
consisting of an employer representative, a trade union
representative, and an independent chairman, may investigate
trade union disputes, recommend the terms of settlement, engage
in conciliation and arbitration, and set up joint committees to
regulate conditions of employment and minimum rates of pay for
workers in a given trade or industry.

    c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

    Forced or compulsory labor is prohibited by law and does
not exist in Ireland.  However, portions of the 1894 Merchant
Shipping Act are considered by the International Labor
Organization (ILO) to be inconsistent with the prohibition on
forced or compulsory labor.

    d.  Minimum Age of Employment of Children

    Under Irish legislation, the minimum age for employment of
children is 15 years.  Children over 14 years are permitted to
carry out light, non-industrial work during school holidays
with the written permission of the parents.  Irish laws limit
the working hours in any week for young persons aged between 15
and 16 years to eight hours per day up to a maximum of 40 hours
in any week.  The normal working hours are 37.5 hours a week. 
Young persons aged between 16 and 18 years may work a normal
day of eight hours and a maximum of nine hours in any day.  The
normal work week is 40 hours, with a maximum of 45 hours. 
These provisions are effectively enforced by the Minister for
Enterprise and Employment.  The EU is adopting a new directive
on the protection of young people at work.

    e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

    There is no general minimum wage legislation.  However,
some workers are covered by minimum wage laws applicable to
specific industrial sectors, mainly those in which wages tend
to be below the average.  A government submission to an EC
Commission white paper on "Growth, Competitiveness and
Employment" suggested that a minimum wage policy could hinder
job creation and recommended that the EC assess the potential
effects on employment, of any such proposal to regulate the
labor market.  In 1993 the average weekly wage was USD 371 (in
1993 IRP 1 was equivalent to USD 1.46) for production and 
transport workers.  Working hours in the industrial sector are
limited to 9 hours per day and 48 hours per week.  Overtime is
limited to 2 hours per day, 12 hours per week, and 240 hours in
a year.  As part of the new national economic pact adopted in
1993, the standard work week is being gradually reduced to 39
hours.  The Department of Enterprise and Employment enforces
four basic laws dealing with occupational safety that provide
adequate and comprehensive coverage.

    f.  Rights in Sectors with U.S. Investment

    Worker rights described above are applicable in all sectors
of the economy, including those with significant U.S.
investment.



  Extent of U.S. Investment in Selected Industries.--U.S. Direct
Investment Position Abroad on an Historical Cost Basis--1993

                    (Millions of U.S. dollars)
                                                                
              Category                          Amount          

Petroleum                                               (1)
Total Manufacturing                                   5,122
  Food & Kindred Products                     363
  Chemicals and Allied Products             2,340
  Metals, Primary & Fabricated                198
  Machinery, except Electrical                -14
  Electric & Electronic Equipment             762
  Transportation Equipment                     52
  Other Manufacturing                       1,420
Wholesale Trade                                         159
Banking                                                 (1)
Finance/Insurance/Real Estate                         3,389
Services                                                684
Other Industries                                         52
TOTAL ALL INDUSTRIES                                  9,575    

(1) Suppressed to avoid disclosing data of individual companies
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic
Analysis

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