Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Industrial machinery, medical equipment and food are key sectors of opportunity for Wisconsin companies in this market.

For the last three years, Ireland has been the fastest-growing EU economy (2014: 8.5% GDP growth, 2015: 26.5%, 2016: 4.9% estimated). Its GDP growth for 2017 is also forecast to be healthy, at 3.7 percent. Even if Britain’s EU exit results in a 1.2 percent lower economic Irish growth, as the Irish government fears, the economy will still grow handily.

Domestic demand in Ireland has grew an estimated 4.3 percent in 2016, and investment grew at 13.4 percent last year. In the private sector, a number of modernization projects stopped or postponed during the economic crisis after 2007 are expected to resume. The Irish government is also eyeing huge infrastructure projects. Between 2016 and 2021, €27 billion is expected to be spent for new projects in sectors including transportation, medicine and water.

Although Ireland has traditionally logged a very high export surplus, export sectors are almost exclusively limited to chemicals (58% of all exports), food, medical technology and electronics. Therefore, Ireland is strongly dependent on imports in other areas, such as the machine engineering sector, which accounted only for 0.6 percent of economic value in 2014. In 2015, the U.S., with a share of 14.5 percent, was Ireland’s third-largest supplier of products, and statistics show flourishing economic exports from Wisconsin to Ireland. The total value of Wisconsin machinery exports through September 2016, at $6.7 million, almost exceeded the total for the entire year 2015. Industrial machinery exports grew in the same time period by 54 percent, to almost $1 million. Wisconsin food exports increased by 62 percent to $1.2 million, with dairy products the leading subcategory. Rubber products are also in high demand in Ireland, with double-digit growth since 2012.

Infrastructure projects such as the €230 million Dublin port project, running until 2020, may have contributed to the 97 percent growth in Wisconsin transport equipment exports from full-year 2015 to the first nine months of 2016 ($1.1 million). Nationwide flood protection and sewage modernization programs worth over €1 billion may boost Wisconsin water technology exports. The planned children’s hospital in Dublin, worth €710 million with 39 medical departments, could increase Wisconsin’s exports of optic and surgical instruments to Ireland, currently sitting at $11 million annually.

Wisconsin companies can take advantage of the fact that Ireland is the only European English-speaking market that is a member of the EU and the Euro zone. The advantage of a common language makes the country an excellent European test market for Wisconsin companies. Ireland’s strategic location also positions the country as a gateway to Europe.