Ireland - Market Overview

Table of content

Source: Statistics Canada

Why Ireland Matters

  • Two-way merchandise trade with Ireland amounted to $2.3 billion in 2015, making it Canada’s ninth-largest trade partner in the European Union (EU)Footnote 1. Canada is Ireland’s seventh largest trading partner outside the EU.Footnote 2
  • Ireland’s GDP per person is ranked second in the EU, far ahead of the neighboring United Kingdom.Footnote 3
  • Ireland is the fourth largest recipient in the EU of Canada foreign direct investment; among EU countries, the Irish are the seventh largest EU direct investors in Canada
  • As of 2015, Ireland is ranked seventeenth out of 189 countries for its ease of doing business in the "World Bank Doing Business 2016 Report
  • Ireland is a highly educated, literate country; According to Eurobarometer, 98.4 percent of Irish people speak English, ranking Ireland third among all world countries for English fluency
  • Although Ireland has a relatively small population of 4.6 million (2014), it is recognized as a country that has a wide global reach and an impact that far exceeds its size. Indeed, Ireland’s ability to attract multinational firms and major investments is viewed as a model by many other countries.

How to export to Ireland

Read the guide Export Guide to the EU.

Sectoral Opportunities in Ireland:


Ireland’s Energy White Paper has outlined the need to improve Ireland’s energy efficiency and renewable energy (RE) production. 2016 saw renewables (onshore wind) contribute 9.1% to the economy.  It is recognised that wind energy is the most cost-effective renewable option for Ireland, which at the moment is grappling with the management of up to 75% wind loading on the grid at any one time.  However, this needs to ramp up to 16% to reach the EU’s 2030 RE extension targets which were proposed in November 2016 and are anticipated to be reset for Ireland.  Diverse RE technologies will be necessary for electricity (40% from RE), heat (12%) and transport (10%) to ensure these targets are met.  They will include wastewater treatment plants, solar, ocean technologies and energy storage.


Ireland is the second largest exporter of computer and IT services in the world and the sector accounts for more than €50 billion ($71 billion) of exports from Ireland per annum.Footnote 6  Given Ireland’s prominence in the ICT space and Canadian companies’ growing and influential place in most tech subsectors, there are potential opportunities in Ireland, not only in the country itself, but also within Europe. Ireland is a perfect jumping off point for Canadian companies to access the very large European market.


Ireland’s construction sector continues to expand and is expected to record the strongest growth rate of 9.9% across 19 EU countries up to 2017.  The industrial sector has seen a 500% increase in the value of project commencements which is attributed to the number of data centres under construction.  This is expected to continue into 2017.  There has also been a 40% increase in the commercial and retail sector with €430m worth of projects granted planning permission during 2016 alone.  Ireland aims to construct 47,000 new social homes by end 2021.  The overall target is 25,000 new homes pa.  Passive House standard has been embraced by some Irish builders and has been mainstreamed by progressive local authorities.  Green public procurement is an integral part of this plan where overall responsibility for public procurement lies with contracting authorities using environmental criteria to decide from whom they buy goods/services.  Ireland’s Code of Practice to improve the thermal efficiency performance of domestic dwellings continues to offer cash grants towards insulation, heating improvements and free energy upgrades in energy poor homes.

Life sciences

Lifesciences is a growth sector in Ireland. Foreign corporations continue to establish themselves in Ireland, largely due to the corporate tax rate but also for the skilled labour, and the ease of accessing the European market writ large. There are potential opportunities in the Irish value-chain either to establish connections with domestic companies or with the objective of using Ireland as a jumping-off point to the rest of Europe.


For more information on trade and investment opportunities in Ireland, contact your Trade Commissioner in Dublin, Ireland.


Footnote 1

Statistics Canada

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Footnote 2

Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation

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Footnote 3


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Footnote 4

Eurostat, IMF

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Footnote 5

Bord Iascaigh Mhara (Irish Sea Fisheries Board) OR Statistics Canada

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Footnote 6

Enterprise Ireland (Information & Communications Technology (ICT) sector profile)

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