Ireland, life sciences, pills

Ireland is part of Western Europe. Most of the island of Ireland operates as an independent country, while Northern Ireland operates as part of the U.K. Ireland has a temperate climate, with mild winters and cool summers. The consistent humidity, abundant rainfall and lack of sunshine provide ideal conditions for foliage, which has given rise to Ireland’s nickname: “The Emerald Isle.”

The history of Ireland is one of continual struggles from the time the early Celts arrived around 600 B.C to the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, which ushered in a new phase of cooperation between the Irish and British governments. Ireland joined the European Community in 1973 and the euro-zone in 1999. The Irish banking system had major problems in 2008 from which it is still recovering.

Manufacturing in Ireland

Ireland’s manufacturing sector is clustered in the pharmaceutical, medical device, chemical, computer equipment, software, food and beverage and brewing industries. Ireland is the largest exporter of legitimate pharmaceuticals in the world. About 11 percent of the Irish workforce is employed in this industry.

Industrial production is growing at about 1.5 percent annually as of 2017, and manufacturing accounts for about 38 percent of the GDP.

Other Important Industries

Agriculture makes up only about 1 percent of the GDP for Ireland, while services comprises around 60.7 percent. Commercial aviation, banking and technology services are among the largest segments of Ireland’s service sector.

Ireland’s primary agricultural products include barley, potatoes, wheat, beef and dairy products. About 66 percent of the land in Ireland is devoted to agriculture. Of that, about 51 percent is permanent pasture and 15 percent is arable.

Supply Chain Infrastructure for Manufacturing

Ireland is located on major air and sea routes between North America and Europe. As a result, international trade is a major industry. Ireland has robust communication infrastructure, including reliable telephone and internet communications.

International trade is a key component of Ireland’s economy, with computers, food, animal products, chemicals, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and machinery and equipment among the most common export commodities. Imports are primarily machinery and equipment, chemicals, petroleum, textiles and clothing.


Ireland has 40 airports, but only a handful of these can support large aircraft. However, in a country of its size, the air system is more than adequate.

Ireland has a robust railway system so it is easy to move goods within the country. Rail and roads connect to major ports, including Dublin, which is an intermodal terminal for fast, easy shipping to Europe and North America.


Ireland had an estimated unemployment rate of 6.4 percent in 2017, which is slightly less than the 2016 rate of 7.9 percent. The improvement is largely attributed to recovery from the banking crisis of 2011. Ireland was able to formally exit from its EU-IMF bailout in 2013, and since 2014, the economy has enjoyed real economic growth in the range of 4 percent.

The workforce in Ireland numbers about 2.23 million people, the majority of whom are highly educated. In fact, the population of Ireland averages 19 years of schooling, and the country spends about 4.9 percent of its GDP on education. This makes it number 31 in the world for education.

About 5 percent of the Irish workforce is engaged in agriculture, 11 percent in industry and 84 percent in service industries.


Although Ireland ranks number 121 among all countries in the world based on area, it is number 52 in terms of its economic ranking. In per capita GDP, it ranks number 10, with $75,500 per person.

While the economy of Ireland has bounced back from the economic turmoil of the early part of the 21st century, the economy is still somewhat fragile. Long a tax haven for multinational firms because of its low 12.5 percent tax rate, the government has recently announced that it plans to take steps to enact more stringent tax laws by closing existing loopholes. In addition, The U.K.’s exit from the EU (Brexit) may usher in changes to international tax laws that could have adverse effects on Ireland’s international trade.

Ireland imported an estimated $96.03 billion in 2017. Its primary trading partners were the U.K., the U.S., France, Germany and the Netherlands. Estimated 2017 exports reached $225.1 billion, with Belgium and Switzerland added to the trade mix.

Political Landscape

Ireland is home to various international groups including the Continuity Irish Republican Army and the New Irish Republican Army. Both groups maintain a presence in Ireland and aim to bring about a united Ireland.

Ireland’s government is a parliamentary republic, formed in 1921 when the country became independent from the U.K. Its constitution was updated and adopted in 1937, although it is amended often.

The legal system is based on the English Common Law model, although it differs in many respects due to local custom and by acts of its Supreme Court.

Tax Rules

Ireland has historically had a low tax rate (12.5), making it a haven for foreign investment and multinational headquarters. It ranks in the top 10 globally for low taxes and a simple tax code.

Although the corporate income tax is relatively low, there are several additional taxes to be aware of. Employer paid social security taxes equal 10.75 percent of gross salaries, and there is a 33 percent tax on capital gains.

Ireland has dealt with many environmental issues over the last several years and now levies a tax of €75 per tonne of waste. In addition, there is a 50 cent per check tax on all paper checks and a fuel tax of €479.02 per 1,000 liters. Ireland also has a VAT of 23 percent.

Special Circumstances

Starting a business in Ireland is relatively quick and easy. While there are a few procedures to be aware of, most, like registering for VAT or obtaining a corporate seal, are fast and either free or inexpensive.

Enforcing contracts is also relatively simple since Ireland has a straightforward legal system and a high respect for intellectual property. Ireland is a member of most international IP conventions and treaties and its IP laws provide protection for copyrights, trademarks, patents and designs.

Getting Down to Business

Doing business in Ireland can be lucrative because of the advantageous tax laws and its position as a waypoint for international trade between North America and Europe. However, even though the corporate tax rate is low, Ireland does levy many additional taxes which may require a system with a robust, international tax capability like QAD’s tax management solution.

Manufacturing in Ireland ranges across multiple industries, from high tech to industrial to food and beverage, making an enterprise solution with an adaptable industry-specific manufacturing framework critical.

How would you describe the state of Manufacturing in Ireland? Learn more about manufacturing and doing business in other great countries around the world.