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US-Ireland Trade Relations: More Than Just Bilateral Relations
The Start of a Prospering Trade Relation

The Republic of Ireland (Eire) covers almost 85% of the island bearing its name. Dublin is considered as its capital. The country is primarily suited to agricultural activities, although industry is increasing in importance. Deposits of lead, silver, zinc and copper were mined in the area. The pleasant scenery, unspoiled countryside, and unhurried way of life attract many vacationers as well.

Until recently, agriculture was the main source of leaving for Ireland's inhabitants. To this day, farming is still important but is only employing a few portion of the labor force. Most of the agricultural lands are under pasture or hay. Dairying, usually by cooperatives, predominates in the south and in the north midlands while beef cattle are raised on the small farms in the west ad fattened on the larger farms of the east. Sheep graze on the uplands. The main crops are barley for feeding and malting, oats, wheat, potatoes and sugar beets.

Fishing employs a significant portion of the population. The chief fish caught in Ireland's waters are cod, whiting, plaice, sole, haddock, herring and mackerel. Lobsters, prawns, periwinkles and other shellfish abound along its rocky coasts.

In the 1930's, the new state encouraged local industry, thus placing tariffs on imported goods. This was done in order for small-scale industries to develop and serve the local needs. By 1950, this market had been saturated, and a decline in development necessitated a major change in government policy. Foreign-owned firms especially those with export potentials were encouraged to locate in the country.

In 1959, a special industrial estate was established in Shannon, close to the international airport, where goods are imported and exported without customs restrictions. Dozens of factories, employing thousands of workers are now found in the area. A government agency known as the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) exists to promote the manufacturing sector and attract foreign investment. Ireland's dependence on foreign oil has decreased because of domestic natural gas production.

The role of the United States in the trade prosperity of Ireland could be seen even from ancestral years. The above-mentioned facts were all because of the efforts of the former to be part of the major trade of the latter. They did not set boundaries between themselves which could further hinder the trust that grew through time. Since Ireland is a member of the European Union (EU), discussion on economic trade and policies became the key element for the US-Ireland trade relations.

Major Exports and Imports between US and Ireland

The United Kingdom is Ireland's chief trading partner accounting for nearly 50% of its world trade. The United States is one of the major trade partners together with Germany. More than one-third of all exports are agricultural products while machinery and woolen textiles are also exported to gain fame in international business. Imports of Ireland from other countries are dominated by manufactured goods, petroleum and coal. Tourism is also considered to form part of global trade and foreign currency. The data gathered by the US Census Bureau showed favorable results for the seven-month period ending July 2008. The total exports of the United States to Ireland had a total of $5.56 billion while the imports of Ireland from US amounted to $18.18 billion. This goes to show how much support the two countries have for each other. For the year 2007, statistics showed the following:

  • Irish Exports to US. Ireland's effort to trade with US is primarily led by the following prime commodities. On top of the list are medicinal, dental and pharmaceutical operations which garnered a total of $18.6 billion at a percentage of 62% of total exports. Completing the top ten list are: household goods; soft beverages and processed coffee drinks; industrial organic chemicals; other scientific, medical and hospital equipment; computer accessories, peripherals and parts; computers; semiconductors; alcoholic beverages excluding wine; and wine and related products. The last exported products amounted to $148.5 million or .5% of the total.
  • Irish Imports from US. Out of the $9 billion worth of products imported by Ireland from US, civilian aircraft topped the chart with a total amount of $2.4 billion comprising 27% of the imports. Accompanying these goods are: other household goods; pharmaceutical preparations; computer accessories; medicinal equipment; telecommunications equipment; electric apparatus; semiconductors; plastic materials; and other industrial supplies. The last one earned $169.8 million or 1.9% of the $9 billion total.
  • Fastest Growing US Imports from Ireland. There are five notable products under this category in terms of sales. Books, magazines and other printed matter were found on top at an amount of $31.8 million equivalent to 536.8% increase from 2006. They were followed by: semiconductors, measuring, testing and control instruments; food and tobacco processing machinery; and DVD's and other video equipment. The last item gained a total of $2.8 million which is equivalent to an increase of 96.2% from 2006.
  • Fastest Growing US Exports to Ireland. The exports of US to Ireland for 2007 showed a very commendable increase from 2006's statistics. In fact, fuel oil which was in first place earned a total of $54.6 million with an increase of 210,877%. The rest of the five commodities are: coal and other fuels; soybeans; oilseeds and food oils; and stereo equipment which earned a remarkable percentage increase of 400.2% equivalent to an amount of $18 million.
Ireland Friendship, Commerce and Navigation Treaty

This particular trade agreement was signed in Ireland's capital Dublin in January 21, 1950. There were several ratifications made on the treaty in the same year to further strengthen the trade relations between Ireland and its long-time comrade, the United States. There are several important portions of the contract but it primarily governed the friendship of both nations. It was specifically done because of US's desire to have an abundant trade and commerce with Ireland aside from personal ties which were already seen. The agreement focused on the following aspects:

  • On Friendship. It helped strengthen the bond and protect the nationals of both countries. It further states that any citizen of both parties shall be free from any unlawful molestation which could come in various forms. Should a national from Ireland living in the United States and vice versa commit a crime, a representative of the country from the nearest consulate should be notified immediately of such action. Any person shall be given humane treatment despite the act which he had committed.
  • On Commerce. The pact specifically quoted issues on commercial, manufacturing processing and other financial activities subjected to patents of inventions and rights in trademark. It furthermore gave importance to access of courts of justice as well as administrative tribunals and agencies within the territorial jurisdictions. All nationals and companies are accorded the right within the territories of the other party to organize, control and manage companies engaged in foreign business.
  • On Navigation. The concern of the pact under this particular area is the flow of free trade between Ireland and US. Any national of either country shall be permitted to enter the territory of the other for the purpose of carrying prime commodities for trade. Payment of internal taxes and other charges or fees are strictly prohibited provided that the trade activity takes place within the boundaries of both nations.
Trade Conflicts between US and Ireland

The trade disputes between US and Ireland actually sprung from EU and US concerns. Ireland, being part of the EU, has to follow the guidelines set by the union and US on the other hand, have some complains regarding these guidelines. Specifically, matters boiled down into the following:

  • Traditional Trade Conflict. Disparities on agriculture, steel, aerospace and contingent protection was found under this category. Producer protection was the primary concern of both sides. Both nations were concerned on impositions of tariffs, subsidies and other industrial policy instruments governing the exports and imports of products. There were such terms as vested interests evidenced by the fact that exports were seen on an open market while protecting them from import invasion.
  • Foreign Policy Conflict. These are conflicts seen on both political and economic activities in the absence of pressure from the private sectors. The disputes usually arise from foreign policies which are significantly different from each other. Accounting principles are considered one of the toughest competitions under this area. The situation is aggravated all the more because both EU and US complained about export taxes, extraterritorial provisions as well as preferential dealings.
  • Regulatory Policy Conflict. This is preferably known as social and environmental concerns. This specifically arouse from domestic policies which include regulations and standards modifying the social, environmental and cultural goals of each nation. There is the so-called protection of interests of domestic producers at the cost of the foreign trade partner.
The Days that Lie Ahead

The traditional trade, foreign, and regulatory policy conflicts may have caused dealings between Ireland and US to stagnate at some points. However, as evidenced by their import and export relations where increases have even reached a hundred thousand percentages, the underlying dispute will surely be resolved. The trade barriers are but common in any international business and only those who get affected will sink into the soil.

There are continuing efforts to resolve the dispute, hence, there is no reason for both nations to be bothered about their flourishing trade relations. Add to that the fact that they come from two of the most powerful forces in the world. The future generation will surely be glad to form part of these two countries which are bound by a treaty on friendship, commerce and navigation.


Note: Trade statistics, industry links, economic projections and global business resources on this page have been compiled from hundreds of trade related websites, government guides and resources on the Internet. We provide this valuable information for industrial suppliers, manufacturers, exporters and importers seeking to enter or expland business opportunities in Ireland.

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Agriculture, once Ireland's most important sector, is now dwarfed by industry. Major industries food products, brewing, textiles, clothing; chemicals, pharmaceuticals, machinery, transportation equipment, glass and crystal, and software. Although exports remain the primary reason for Ireland's recent growth, the economy is also benefiting from a rise in consumer spending and recovery in business and industrial investment.

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