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Ireland: Market Profile

Picture: Ireland factsheet
Picture: Ireland factsheet

1. Overview

Several internal and external factors underpinned Ireland’s strong economic success in recent years. The most notable are its geographic, linguistic, and trade links to the United States and the United Kingdom. When demand from eurozone countries was collapsing in the years after the financial crisis, Ireland's export sector benefitted from the robust economic recoveries in the United States and the United Kingdom. Euro weakness arguably benefitted Irish export competitiveness more than any eurozone country during the downturn, as its two main trading partners used relatively strong currencies. On the internal side, government economic policies are directed towards the creation of a stable economic environment that is supportive of the needs of business. Over 1,000 companies from all over the world have chosen Ireland as their base to do business and that foreign direct investment (FDI) in Ireland increased significantly in recent years, despite global economic uncertainty. Over the last four decades, Ireland has continually invested and reinvested to meet the requirements of a growing and sophisticated international business sector. Today, Ireland is one of the most favoured locations for investment in Europe.

Source: Fitch Solutions

2. Major Economic/Political Events and Upcoming Elections

June 2017
Leo Varadkar became prime minister after Enda Kenny resigned.

December 2018
The Fine Gael-Independents coalition renewed their confidence-and-supply agreement with the main opposition Fianna Fáil, the two parties originally agreed to hold an election in the spring of 2020.

August 2019
Dublin Port Company secured planning approval for the development of the next phase of its 440,000sq m inland port near Dublin Airport in Ireland, reports Independent. The phase, spanning more than 40,000sq m, would include a site with capacity to store more than 2,000 shipping containers. The site would also feature an ESB substation, an office building and gantry, among other facilities. The inland port would 'allow port-related but non-core activities to be relocated away from Dublin Port', according to the Dublin Port Company. This would create space close to the quays and berths in Dublin Port for the transit storage of cargo. The port firm is working on a master plan that would bring it to 'its maximum and ultimate capacity' by 2040. It planned to undertake EUR320 million worth of projects that make up the second stage of its main expansion plan.

October 2019
The scheduled Brexit date is October 31, 2019 for the United Kingdom.

Sources: BBC Country Profile – Timeline, national sources, Fitch Solutions

3. Major Economic Indicators

Graph: Ireland real GDP and inflation
Graph: Ireland real GDP and inflation
Graph: Ireland GDP by sector (2018)
Graph: Ireland GDP by sector (2018)
Graph: Ireland unemployment rate
Graph: Ireland unemployment rate
Graph: Ireland current account balance
Graph: Ireland current account balance

e = estimate, f = forecast
Sources: IMF, World Bank, Fitch Solutions
Date last reviewed: August 16, 2019

4. External Trade

4.1 Merchandise Trade

Graph: Ireland merchandise trade
Graph: Ireland merchandise trade

Source: WTO
Date last reviewed: August 16, 2019

Graph: Ireland major export commodities (2018)
Graph: Ireland major export commodities (2018)
Graph: Ireland major export markets (2018)
Graph: Ireland major export markets (2018)
Graph: Ireland major import commodities (2018)
Graph: Ireland major import commodities (2018)
Graph: Ireland major import markets (2018)
Graph: Ireland major import markets (2018)

Sources: Trade Map, Fitch Solutions
Date last reviewed: August 16, 2019

4.2 Trade in Services

Graph: Ireland trade in services
Graph: Ireland trade in services

e = estimate
Source: WTO
Date last reviewed: August 16, 2019

5. Trade Policies

  • Ireland has been a World Trade Organization (WTO) member since January 1995.

  • In November 2018, the WTO authorities said that there is nothing in its rules that would force either the European Union (EU) or the United Kingdom to erect a hard Irish border after Brexit. The Geneva-based trade body where countries negotiate the rules of international trade would only intervene in a dispute over trade if one of its 164 member countries made a complaint.

  • Ireland is a member state of the EU and transposes EU directives and regulations into domestic law. Business is conducted in English, and the currency is the euro. There are 11 members of the European Parliament from Ireland.

  • No customs duties arise on goods ‘imported’ from other EU member states. They are originated in the EU or have been customs cleared in another member state of the EU.

  • According to the EU, the most important sectors of Ireland’s economy in 2018 were industry, information and communication, wholesale and retail trade, transport, accommodation, food service activities, public administration, defence, education, human health and social work activities. Intra-EU trade accounts for around 50% of Ireland’s exports (Belgium 13% and Germany 7%), while outside the EU 28% go to the United States and 5% to Switzerland. In terms of imports, 64% come from EU member states (France and Germany both 12%), while outside the EU 17% come from the United States and 4% from Mainland China.

  • Ireland is heavily dependent on the United Kingdom as an export market, especially for food products, and sectors such as food and agri-business may be the most affected. Ireland also sources many imports from the United Kingdom, which could raise costs if supply chains are disrupted. A number of United Kingdom-based firms have moved headquarters or opened subsidiary offices in Ireland to facilitate ease of business with other EU countries.

  • Exports, most basic food items, oral medicines, books, and children’s clothing and footwear are zero-rated for value-added tax (VAT) purposes. Some supplies are exempt from VAT. The main exempt categories are most banking services, insurance services, medical services, passenger transport, education and training, and letting of immovable goods (although an ‘option to tax’ may be possible in certain circumstances).

  • Zero rating is preferable to exemption because most VAT costs incurred in making a zero-rated supply can be recovered, while those incurred in making an exempt supply generally cannot.

  • Goods imported into Ireland from countries outside the EU are liable to customs duty at the appropriate rates specified in the EU’s Combined Nomenclature Tariff. These rates vary from 0% to 14% for industrial goods, with much higher rates applicable to agricultural products. Imports may qualify for a partial or full reduction in rates in specific circumstances.

  • The three main elements (‘customs duty drivers’) that determine the duty liability arising on goods imported into the EU from a non-EU country are the product’s commodity code (Tariff Classification), its customs valuation, and its origin. Each of these elements will need to be considered when determining the customs duty cost at import.

  • There are special customs procedures that allow for the import of goods into the EU from non-EU countries with full or partial relief from customs duty or under a suspension of customs duty. Examples of these are Customs Warehousing, Inward Processing Relief, Processing under Customs Controls, and Outward Processing Relief. There are different conditions attached to each customs special procedure, and an analysis of the trade footprint of the importer of the goods will need to be considered in order to determine whether or not they may avail of one of these reliefs. These procedures are important and are in place with the intention of stimulating economic activity within the EU.

  • The EU has imposed various anti-dumping measures on a wide range of products. As of Q319, the EU and the European Commission (EC) apply anti-dumping duties on 52 product categories, affecting 15 states. The EU imposes anti-dumping duties on 30 categories of products from Mainland China and a few other Asian nations, predominantly in the areas of textiles, parts, steel, iron and machinery.

  • In 2016, the EC introduced an import licensing regime for steel products exceeding 2.5 tonnes. The regulation will be active until May 15, 2020.

  • On January 1, 2017, the EU imposed additional import duties on certain fruit and vegetables if the quantity of the goods exceeds the trigger volume level within the specified application period. As of January 2019, the EC has applied additional import duties on certain fruit and vegetables from Brazil, Israel, South Africa, Peru, Morocco, Egypt, India, Chile and Argentina.

  • 73 countries have tariffs products affected by EU and/or EC tariffs; 631 products exported by Mainland China have tariffs placed upon them; 18 products exported by Hong Kong have EU tariffs placed upon them as of Q319.

  • The EU imposes import quotas on rice imports from Cambodia, India, United States, Pakistan and Thailand.

Sources: National sources, WTO, Fitch Solutions

6. Trade Agreement

6.1 Trade Updates

Brexit remains a latent threat to Ireland's growth potential, although how severe this is will depend on the eventual outcome of the negotiations.

6.2 Multinational Trade Agreements


  1. The EU Common Market: The transfer of capital, goods, services and labour between member nations enjoy free movement. The common market extends to the 28 member nations of the EU, namely: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

  2. European Economic Area-European Free Trade Association (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland): While it enhances trade flows between these countries and the EU, only Switzerland is a fairly major trading partner.

  3. EU-Turkey: The customs union within the EU provides tariff-free access to the European market for Turkey, benefitting both exporters and importers.

  4. EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA): In July 2018, the EU and Japan signed a trade deal that promises to eliminate 99% of tariffs that cost businesses in the EU and Japan nearly EUR1 billion annually. According to the EC, the EU-Japan EPA will create a trade zone covering 600 million people and nearly a third of global GDP. The result of four years of negotiation, the EPA was finalised in late 2017 and came into force on February 1, 2019 after the EU Parliament ratified the agreement in December 2018. The total trade volume of goods and services between the EU and Japan is an estimated EUR86 billion. The key parts of the agreement will cut duties on a wide range of agricultural products and it seeks to open up services markets, particularly financial services, e-commerce, telecommunications and transport. Japan is the EU's second biggest trading partner in Asia after Mainland China. EU exports to Japan are dominated by motor vehicles, machinery, pharmaceuticals, optical and medical instruments, and electrical machinery.

  5. EU-SADC EPA (Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland): An agreement between EU and SADC delegations was reached in 2016 and is fully operational for SADC members following the ratification of the agreement by Mozambique. The remaining six members of SADC not included in the deal (the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Zambia and Zimbabwe) are seeking EPAs with the EU as part of other trading blocs – such as with East or Central African communities.

Provisionally Active

  1. The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA): The CETA is an agreement between the EU and Canada. CETA was signed in October 2016 and ratified by the Canadian House of Commons and EU Parliament in February 2017. However, as of July 2019, the agreement has not been ratified by every European state and has only provisionally entered into force. The following EU countries have ratified CETA, making the agreement provisionally active for these states: Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Spain, the United Kingdom, Croatia, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Portugal, Sweden and Finland. CETA is expected to strengthen trade ties between the two regions, having come into effect in 2016. Some 98% of trade between Canada and the EU will be duty free under CETA. The agreement is expected to boost trade between partners by more than 20%. CETA also opens up government procurement. Canadian companies will be able to bid on opportunities at all levels of the EU government procurement market and vice versa. CETA means that Canadian provinces, territories and municipalities are opening their procurement to foreign entities for the first time, albeit with some limitations regarding energy utilities and public transport.

  2. EU-Central America Association Agreement (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Belize and the Dominican Republic): An agreement between the parties was reached in 2012 and is awaiting ratification (29 of the 34 parties have ratified the agreement as of July 2019). The agreement has been provisionally applied since 2013, with the agreement being provisionally implanted among signatories.

Ratification Pending

  1. EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA) (EUSFTA): On February 13, 2019, the European Parliament passed the agreement which would see the creation of the EUSFTA. However, before the agreement is implemented, all the states involved will need to ratify the agreement through their individual legislatures; in this case, the FTA may become provisionally active along the lines of states which have already ratified the agreement.

  2. EU-Vietnam FTA: In July 2018, the EU and Vietnam agreed on final texts for the EU-Vietnam FTA and the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (IPA). On June 30, 2019, the relevant parties signed the agreement on both the trade agreement and the investment protection agreement. The signed agreements will be presented to both the EU and Vietnamese parliaments, as well as the individual parliaments of EU members, for ratification.

  3. EU-MERCOSUR FTA: After 19 and a half years, a deal to establish the FTA was agreed upon on June 28, 2019. The signed agreements will be presented to the parliaments of the affected states (EU and MERCOSUR members), as well as to the EU Parliament, for ratification before coming into effect. MERCOSUR consists of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay (Venezuela’s membership has been suspended).

Under Renegotiation

  1. EU-Australia: The EU, Australia's second largest trade partner, has launched negotiations for a comprehensive trade agreement with Australia. Bilateral trade in goods between the two partners has risen steadily in recent years, reaching almost EUR48 billion in 2017, and bilateral trade in services added an additional EUR27 billion. The negotiations aim to remove trade barriers, streamline standards and put European companies exporting to or doing business in Australia on equal footing with those from countries that have signed up to the Trans-Pacific Partnership or other trade agreements with Australia. The Council of the EU authorised opening negotiations for a trade agreement between the EU and Australia on May 22, 2018.

  2. EU-United States (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership): This agreement was expected to increase trade and services, but it is unlikely to pass under the Trump administration in the United States against the backdrop of rising global trade tensions.

Sources: WTO Regional Trade Agreements Database, Fitch Solutions

7. Investment Policy

7.1 Foreign Direct Investment

Graph: Ireland FDI stock
Graph: Ireland FDI stock
Graph: Ireland FDI flow
Graph: Ireland FDI flow

Source: UNCTAD
Date last reviewed: August 16, 2019

7.2 Foreign Direct Investment Policy

  1. One of Ireland’s most attractive features as a FDI destination is its low corporate tax rate, which has remained at 12.5% since 2003. Ireland does not levy local or regional taxes on income. A higher corporate income tax rate (of 25%) applies to income from a business conducted outside Ireland and to income from land dealing, mining and petroleum extraction operations.

  2. Other factors that attract foreign firms include the quality and flexibility of the English-speaking workforce; availability of a multilingual labour force; cooperative labour relations; political stability; and pro-business government policies and regulators. Additional positive features include a transparent judicial system; transportation links; proximity to the United States and Europe; and Ireland’s geographic location, which leaves it well placed in time zones to support investment in Asia and the Americas. Ireland also benefits from its membership in the EU and resulting access to a Single Market of 500 million consumers, plus the drawing power of existing companies operating successfully in Ireland.

  3. The planned withdrawal by the United Kingdom from the EU, or Brexit, will leave Ireland as the only remaining English-speaking country in the EU and may make Ireland even more attractive as a destination for FDI.

  4. The Irish government treats all firms incorporated in Ireland on an equal basis. Ireland’s judicial system is transparent and upholds the sanctity of contracts, as well as laws affecting foreign investment. Six government departments and organisations have responsibility to promote investment into Ireland by foreign companies.

  5. The Industrial Development Authority of Ireland (IDA Ireland) has overall responsibility for promoting and facilitating FDI in all areas of the country. IDA Ireland is also responsible for attracting foreign financial and insurance firms to Dublin’s International Financial Services Centre.

  6. Enterprise Ireland (EI) promotes joint ventures and strategic alliances between indigenous and foreign companies. The agency also assists foreign firms that wish to establish food and drink manufacturing operations in Ireland.

  7. Shannon Group (formerly the Shannon Free Airport Development Company) promotes FDI and owns properties in the Shannon region as potential green-field investment sites. Since 2006 and the Industrial Development Amendments Act, EI assumed responsibility for investment by Irish firms in the Shannon region. IDA Ireland remains responsible for FDI in the Shannon region outside the Shannon Free Zone.

  8. Udaras na Gaeltachta (Udaras) has responsibility for economic development in those areas of Ireland where the predominant language is Irish, and works with IDA Ireland to promote overseas investment in these regions.

  9. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has responsibility for economic messaging and supporting the country’s trade promotion agenda as well as diaspora engagement to attract investment.

  10. Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation supports the creation of good jobs by promoting the development of a competitive business environment in which enterprises will operate with high standards and grow in sustainable markets.

  11. Irish law allows foreign corporations (registered under the Companies Act 2014 or previous legislation and known locally as a public limited company, or plc for short) to conduct business in Ireland. Any company incorporated abroad that establishes a branch in Ireland must file certain papers with the Registrar of Companies. A foreign corporation with a branch in Ireland will have the same standing in Irish law for purposes of contracts, etc., as a domestic company incorporated in Ireland. Private businesses are not competitively disadvantaged to public enterprises with respect to access to markets, credit and other business operations.

  12. All firms must register with the Companies Registration Office (CRO). As well as registering companies, the CRO can also register a business/trading name, a non-Ireland based foreign company (external company), or a limited partnership. A firm or company registered under the Companies Act 2014 becomes a body corporate from the date mentioned in its certificate of incorporation. The website permits online data submission.

  13. No barriers exist to participation by foreign entities in the purchase of state-owned Irish companies. Residents of Ireland may, however, be given priority in share allocations over all other investors. In 1998, the Irish government sold the state-owned telecommunications company Eircom, and Irish residents received priority in share allocations. In 2005, the government privatised the national airline Aer Lingus through a stock market flotation, but it chose to retain about a one-quarter stake. In 2015, the International Airlines Group purchased the government’s remaining stake in the airline.

  14. Ireland does not levy tax on the net worth of companies.

  15. Citizens of countries other than Ireland and EU member states can acquire land for private residential or industrial purposes. Under Section 45 of the Land Act, 1965, all non-EU nationals must obtain the written consent of the Land Commission before acquiring an interest in land zoned for agricultural use. There are many equine stud farms and racing facilities owned by foreign nationals. No restrictions exist on the acquisition of urban land.

  16. Ireland does not have formal investment screening legislation, but as an EU member it may need to implement any future common EU investment screening regulations/directives.

  17. Ireland has signed comprehensive double taxation agreements with 74 countries (including Hong Kong and Mainland China), 73 of which (except Ghana) are fully ratified and in effect. Agreements with other countries are also in negotiation. These taxation agreements serve to promote trade and investment between Ireland and the partner countries that would otherwise be discouraged by the possibility of double taxation. The agreements generally cover corporate tax, income tax and capital gains tax (direct taxes).

  18. The state investment agencies and foreign investors establish employment creation targets, which usually serve as the basis for performance requirements. The agencies only pay grant aid after the foreign investors have attained externally audited performance targets. Grant agreements generally have a repayment term of five years after the date on which the last grant is paid. Parent companies typically must also guarantee repayment of the government grant if the company closes before an agreed period of time elapses, normally 10 years after the grant was paid. There are no requirements that foreign investors procure locally or allow nationals to own shares.

  19. The current EU Regional Aid Guidelines (RAGs) that apply to Ireland operate until 2020. RAGs governs the maximum grant aid the Irish government can provide to firms/businesses, which depends on their location. The differences in the aid ceilings reflect the less developed status of business/infrastructure in regions outside the greater Dublin area.

  20. While investors are free, subject to planning permission, to choose the location of their investment, IDA Ireland has actively encouraged investment in regions outside Dublin since the 1990s. Investment regionalisation became Irish government policy in 2001, officially seeking to spread investment more evenly around the country. The IDA’s current strategy targets locating over 50 percent of all new FDI investments outside the two main urban centres of Dublin and Cork. To encourage the location of firms outside Dublin, IDA Ireland has developed 'magnets of attraction,' providing cluster areas of activity around the country. IDA Ireland also has supported construction of business parks in counties Galway and Louth for the biotechnology sector.

  21. There are no restrictions, de jure or de facto, on participation by foreign firms in government-financed and/or -subsidised research and development (R&D) programs on a national basis. In fact, the government strongly encourages and incentivizes (via a partial tax break) foreign companies to conduct R&D as part of a national strategy to build a more knowledge-intensive, innovation-based economy. Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), the state science agency, has been responsible for administering Ireland’s R&D funding since 2000. Under its current strategy, SFI is investing over USD200 million annually in R&D activities. It is targeting leading researchers in Ireland and overseas to promote the development of biotechnology, information and communications technology, and energy, as well as complementary worker skills.

Sources: WTO – Trade Policy Review, national sources, Fitch Solutions

7.3 Free Trade Zones and Investment Incentives

Free Trade Zone/Incentive ProgrammeMain Incentives Available
General incentives- 12.5% corporation tax rate on active business income

- A 25% credit on qualifying R&D expenditures; total effective tax deduction of 37.5%

- Ability to exploit IP at favourable tax rates

- Accelerated tax depreciation allowances for approved energy efficient equipment

- Ability to carry out investment management activities for non-Irish investment funds without creating a taxable presence in Ireland for such funds

- An effective legal, regulatory, and tax framework to allow for the efficient re-domiciliation of investment funds from traditional offshore centres to Ireland
R&D incentives- A tax credit of 25% applies to the full amount of R&D expenditure incurred by a company. This credit is in addition to the normal 12.5% revenue deduction available for the R&D expenditure thereby resulting in an effective corporation tax benefit of 37.5%.

- A separate R&D tax credit is available for expenditure incurred on the construction or refurbishment of a qualifying R&D building. In order to qualify, 35% of the building must be used for qualifying R&D activities, and this threshold is measured over a four-year period. This is of particular assistance where R&D is carried on in a manufacturing environment.

- The credit available is equal to 25% of the expenditure incurred on the construction or refurbishment of a qualifying building, and the qualifying amount is restricted according to the R&D use.

- In addition, companies may account for the R&D tax credit through their profit and loss account or income statement in arriving at the pre-tax profit or loss. This immediately impacts the unit cost of R&D, which is the key measurement used by multinational corporations when considering the locations of R&D projects. Companies that are in receipt of an R&D tax credit have the option, in certain instances, to reward key employees through an alternative use of that credit. In order to qualify as a ‘key employee’, the individual must perform 50% or more of their employment duties on qualifying R&D activities.

- Sub-contracted R&D costs of up to the 15% of qualifying in-house R&D expenditure incurred by a company or EUR100,000 (whichever is greater) can qualify for the R&D tax credit.

- Payments to third level institutions of up to 5% of qualifying in-house R&D expenditure incurred by a company or EUR100,000 (whichever is greater) can qualify for the R&D tax credit.

Sources: National sources, Fitch Solutions

8. Taxation – 2019

  • Value Added Tax: 23%
  • Corporate Income Tax: 12.5%

Source: National sources

8.1 Important Updates to Taxation Information

The Finance Act (2017) provided the first step towards Ireland’s ratification of the Multilateral Instrument. It is envisaged that Ireland will ratify the instrument in full in order for the instrument to take effect from January 2019. The act also provided for the introduction of a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks. A tax rate of 20 cent per litre applies where the sugar content is five or more grams of sugar per 100ml and 30 cent per litre for drinks with eight or more grams of sugar per 100ml. The tax is effective from April 1, 2018.

8.2 Business Taxes

Type of TaxTax Rate and Base
Standard Corporate Income Tax12.5%
Higher Corporate Income Tax (applciable to income from a business carried on wholly outside Ireland and to income from land dealing, mining, and petroleum extraction operations)25%
Additional Profit Resource Rent Tax (applies to certain petroleum activities)25% to 40%
VAT- 23% on the supply of most goods and services in the course or furtherance of business

- There are two main reduced rates of VAT. A 13.5% rate applies to most building services, labour intensive services, domestic fuel, and power. A reduced 9% VAT rate is applies to certain supplies in the tourism sector.
Stamp duty6%

Source: National sources
Date last reviewed: August 16, 2019

9. Foreign Worker Requirements

9.1 General Travel Requirements

HKSAR and BNO passport holders do not require an entry visa to Ireland. Like all overseas visitors to Ireland, if the intended stay is 90 days or more in duration, the visitor must register with An Garda Síochána (police) within 90 days of their arrival in the state. In Ireland, the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service is primarily responsible for dealing with immigration and visa matters. If the traveller is a citizen of a non-EU country, whether they need a visa or not, they will be subject to immigration control when they enter Ireland.

9.2 Work Permit

EU member citizens do not require a work permit, but their employer must inform the job office about their employment. Citizens of the European Economic Area (with EU member states, Iceland, Norway and Lichtenstein) and Switzerland do not require a visa to enter, reside and work in the country.

No work permit is needed by foreigners from outside the EU if they have a permanent residence or family reunion permit, have been granted asylum, study in the country or have blue or green cards.

9.3 Obtaining Foreign Worker Permits

Individuals from non-EU countries require residence and work permits. The procedure to be granted a work permit includes a review of the local job market to ensure that there is no Finnish or EU job seekers available to fulfil the position. Employers must first apply for a permit to hire foreign workers. The vacant position must be reported to the local district Labour Office and cannot be changed at a later stage to fit the profile of a potential employee. The candidate must then apply for a work permit. The government issues the permit for a maximum of two years, which can be repeatedly prolonged, but always for a maximum of two years, and may be renewed as many times as needed. The permit process takes an average of one month.

Foreign (non-Luxembourger) workers are treated the same as nationals. Work permit constraints were somewhat relaxed for non-EU applicants, particularly for qualified persons for skilled positions.

The Ministry of Economy continues to support networks and associations acting in favour of female entrepreneurship. The Law of December 15, 2016 incorporated the principle of equal salaries in the Grand Duchy's legislation, which makes any difference in the salaries paid to men and women carrying out the same task or work of equal value illegal.

9.4 Blue Card

Intended for the stay of a highly qualified employee. A foreigner holding a blue card may reside in the country and work in the job for which the blue card was issued, or change that job under the conditions defined. High qualification means a duly completed university education or higher professional education which has lasted for at least three years. The blue card is issued with the term of validity three months longer than the term for which the employment contract has been concluded, but for the maximum period of two years. The blue card can be extended. One of the conditions for issuing the blue card is a wage criterion – the employment contract must contain gross monthly or yearly wage at least at the rate of 1.5 multiple of the gross average annual wage. Generally, the difficulty in obtaining a Residence permit is on par with other western European countries, once the applicant has provided all pertinent information to the authorities and the local district of residence.

Sources: Europa.eu, Fitch Solutions

10. Risks

10.1 Sovereign Credit Ratings

Rating (Outlook)Rating Date
A2 (Stable)
Standard & Poor'sA+ (Stable)
Fitch Ratings
A+ (Stable)17/05/2019

Sources: Moody's, Standard & Poor's, Fitch Ratings

10.2 Competitiveness and Efficiency Indicators

World Ranking
Ease of Doing Business Index
Ease of Paying Taxes Index
Logistics Performance Index
Corruption Perception Index
IMD World Competitiveness6/6312/637/63

Sources: World Bank, IMD, Transparency International

10.3 Fitch Solutions Risk Indices

World Ranking
Economic Risk Index RankN/A15/2024/202
Short-Term Economic Risk Score
Long-Term Economic Risk Score74.975.9
Political Risk Index RankN/A15/20214/202
Short-Term Political Risk Score
Long-Term Political Risk Score87.687.687.6
Operational Risk Index RankN/A15/20113/201
Operational Risk Score74.374.373.9

Source: Fitch Solutions
Date last reviewed: August 16, 2019

10.4 Fitch Solutions Risk Summary

Ireland's economy will remain one of the EU's best performers over the next decade, even if current rates of extremely fast economic expansion are unlikely to last. While domestic demand is set to play a larger role driving growth, Ireland's externally focused economic growth model will remain broadly intact. The most pertinent threats to Ireland's growth story is posed by the 'Brexit' vote and/or a fundamental change to its international corporate tax laws.

Ireland has welcomed investment from a wide range of business sectors, including electronics and engineering, pharmaceuticals and healthcare products, computer software, financial services, and other internationally traded services. Ireland has one of Europe’s most comprehensive legal frameworks for the protection of intellectual property rights. The continued attractiveness of Ireland as an investment location has been founded on the positive approach of successive Irish governments to the development of businesses. This approach has ensured a favourable tax environment; competitive operating costs; a productive, well-educated, and flexible workforce; and a well-developed infrastructure with world-class support services.

Source: Fitch Solutions
Date last reviewed: August 19, 2019

10.5 Fitch Solutions Political and Economic Risk Indices

Graph: Ireland short term political risk index
Graph: Ireland short term political risk index
Graph: Ireland long term political risk index
Graph: Ireland long term political risk index
Graph: Ireland short term economic risk index
Graph: Ireland short term economic risk index
Graph: Ireland long term economic risk index
Graph: Ireland long term economic risk index

100 = Lowest risk; 0 = Highest risk
Source: Fitch Solutions Economic and Political Risk Indices
Date last reviewed: August 16, 2019

10.6 Fitch Solutions Operational Risk Index

Operational RiskLabour Market RiskTrade and Investment RiskLogistics RiskCrime and Security Risk
Ireland Score73.966.8
Developed States Average72.464.671.376.377.4
Developed States Position (out of 27)111252014
Global Average49.650.349.849.049.2
Global Position (out of 201)131783017

100 = Lowest risk; 0 = Highest risk
Source: Fitch Solutions Operational Risk Index

Graph: Ireland vs global and regional averages
Graph: Ireland vs global and regional averages
Operational Risk Index
Labour Market Risk Index
Trade and Investment Risk IndexLogistics Risk IndexCrime and Security Risk Index
New Zealand77.473.775.772.188.3
United States77.281.3
United Kingdom76.871.479.078.578.2
Isle of Man65.869.162.449.382.4
Developed Markets Averages72.464.671.376.377.4
Emerging Markets Averages46.948.645.447.4
Global Markets Averages49.650.349.849.049.2

100 = Lowest risk; 0 = Highest risk
Source: Fitch Solutions Operational Risk Index
Date last reviewed: August 16, 2019

11. Hong Kong Connection

11.1 Hong Kong’s Trade with Ireland

Graph: Major export commodities to Ireland (2018)
Graph: Major export commodities to Ireland (2018)
Graph: Major import commodities from Ireland (2018)
Graph: Major import commodities from Ireland (2018)

Note: Graph shows the main Hong Kong exports to/imports from Irelanad (by consignment)
Date last reviewed: August 16, 2019

Graph: Merchandise exports to Ireland
Graph: Merchandise exports to Ireland
Graph: Merchandise imports from Ireland
Graph: Merchandise imports from Ireland

Note: Graph shows Hong Kong exports to/imports from Ireland (by consignment)
Exchange Rate HK$/US$, average
7.75 (2014)
7.75 (2015)
7.76 (2016)
7.79 (2017)
7.83 (2018)
Source: Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department
Date last reviewed: August 16, 2019

Growth rate (%)
Number of Irish residents visiting Hong Kong31,406

Source: Hong Kong Tourism Board

Growth rate (%)
Number of European residents visiting Hong Kong1,961,450
 2017Growth rate (%)
Number of developed state citizens residing in Hong Kong65,6801.6

Sources: Hong Kong Tourism Board, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs – Population Division
Date last reviewed: August 16, 2019

11.2 Commercial Presence in Hong Kong

Growth rate (%)
Number of Irish companies in Hong KongN/A
- Regional headquarters
- Regional offices
- Local offices

11.3 Treaties and agreements Between Hong Kong/Mainland China and Ireland

Hong Kong and Ireland have a double taxation agreement in place. The agreement was signed in June 2010 and came into effect in February 2011.

Source: Inland Revenue Department

11.4 Chamber of Commerce or Related Organisations

The Irish Chamber of Commerce of Hong Kong
Address: 20/F, 33 Des Voeux Road, Central, Hong Kong
Email: enquiries@irishchamber.hk
Tel: (852) 2525 0349

Source: Ireland Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong

Ireland Hong Kong Business Forum
Email: linda@dublinchamber.ie
Tel: (353) 1 644 7226
Website: www.ihkbf.com
Please click here to view more information.

Source: Federation of Hong Kong Business Associations Worldwide

Consulate General of Ireland in Hong Kong
Address: 20/F, 33 Des Voeux Road Central, Central, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2535 0700

Source: Consulate General of Ireland in Hong Kong

11.5 Visa Requirements for Hong Kong Residents

HKSAR and BNO passport holders do not require an entry visa to Ireland. Like all overseas visitors to Ireland, if the intended stay is 90 days or more in duration, the traveller must register with An Garda Síochána (police) within 90 days of their arrival.

Source: Consulate General of Ireland in Hong Kong
Date last reviewed: August 16, 2019

Content provided by Picture: Fitch Solutions – BMI Research
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