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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 September 2007, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
Irish growth tops eurozone league
Finance Minister Brian Cowan (left) and PM Bertie Ahern
Low corporation tax and income tax has helped drive the Irish economy
The Irish Republic's economy continues to expand at a much faster pace than its neighbours in the eurozone despite a housing slowdown, figures indicate.

The Central Statistics Office said gross domestic product (GDP) climbed 6.7% in the six months to June, up from 5.2% in the first half of 2006.

The more favoured growth measurement, gross national product, which strips out foreign investment, rose 5.7%.

The figures are more than double the average across the 13-nation euro bloc.

Economists are predicting that full-year growth will be between 5% and 6%, with a drop in homebuilding being more than offset by a strong rise in commercial property construction and state-funded infrastructure.

At the same time, Germany, the bloc's biggest economy, is expected to grow by 2.3%, helped by stronger exports and higher retail spending.

Continued success

The transformation of the Irish economy over the past decade or so has been well documented.

The Republic was once known for its high unemployment, high emigration and high public debt.

But a key combination of government policies, support from the European Union and a young, well-educated English-speaking workforce has helped boost the country's fortunes, earning it the nickname of the Celtic Tiger.

In recent years, the Irish Republic has seen an influx rather than an exodus of skilled people, as workers from newer EU member states such as Poland and Lithuania have arrived to seek jobs.

SEE ALSO
Europeans admire 'Celtic Tiger'
21 May 07 |  Europe
Ireland an EU success story
15 May 07 |  Europe

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