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Ireland’s recent economic success was partially the result of a pursuit of an export-led industrial policy lasting four decades that relied significantly on attracting inward foreign direct investment (FDI). The initial motivation behind this FDI policy was to create employment and curtail emigration from the country. It is only since 1990 that Ireland has really reaped the benefits of this strategy, a period of dramatic transformation in the Irish economy. We have witnessed this new prosperous Ireland develop and mature economically into an open globalised economy. A simple way of fully understanding the significance of the growth in the 1990’s is by reminding ourselves of the facts: in 1990, Irish gross domestic product (GDP) was valued at $57bn, by 2006 it had grown to $276.4bn, an astonishing increase of 385% and during the period 1987-2006 Ireland maintained an annual growth rate of 6% (while most other flourishing economies (E.U. and U.S.) were experiencing a growth rate of between 1 and 2%). In this paper I will attempt to demonstrate how FDI has been the engine of this transformation and the foundation for our new prosperity. I will explain the nature of foreign investment in this country and show how it has affected and aided the economy in a relatively short timeframe. I will also pinpoint the areas that FDI has had the greatest influence on and highlight both the common dangers of FDI and the threats posed Irish influence in the sector. In 2008, Ireland maintained its position as the most FDI intensive economy in Europe. We must understand why it is these multinational companies have so commonly chosen Ireland and ask ourselves what gives us that competitive advantage, why are we different?.

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