By Stephen McKinley
Ireland’s Central Bank issued its assessment of the Irish economy last week, including a look at how the foot-and-mouth crisis may affect future prosperity.
The bank appeared optimistic. "Tigers can’t get foot-and-mouth disease," assistant director general Dr. Michael Casey quipped during his remarks. But agriculture, agri-business and tourism, accounting for almost 15 percent of Ireland’s output, are going to be badly affected.
Growth, he said, had slowed from the astonishing 9.75 percent to around 6-7.5, he said, and that was no bad thing. Six percent growth rates are still among the highest in Europe.
Inflation is a concern, Casey admitted, but not an acute one, though wage increases would have to be watched carefully. Excessive demands for large pay rises from workers this year will mean increases of, at most, 10 percent in 2001 compared to 7.5 percent last year.
Jump in online shopping
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More Irish people are shopping over the Internet than ever before — and they’re using mainly Irish web sites.
Amarach Consulting’s research for the first quarter of 2001 show an increase to nearly 150,000 Irish adults, who had bought something on-line in the last three months. A third of people also bought from UK sites and 13 percent bought from U.S. sites.
"But in terms of purchases by Irish consumers, Irish sites have moved from third to first place in this relatively short period of time (15 months)," said Michael McLoughlin, Amarach’s director of e-services.
Travel is the biggest attraction for Irish Internet users followed by books and music.
UCD loses out to TCD?
A multi-million-dollar research and development pharmaceutical center may be lost by UCD to Trinity, as pharmaceutical giant Elan appears to be frustrated at UCD trying to get more money than the originally agreed-upon $40 million.
The president of the College, Dr. Art Cosgrave, is an ardent supporter of the deal, but it ran into the price argument when it was referred to the university’s academic council for approval, which appears to want an extra 50 percent.
Belgian consultants Deminor say that Allied Irish Bank is the highest ranking Irish firm in a study of investor friendly companies.
But the top five slots went to UK companies, who scored highly with "progressive transparent financial statements, shareholder voting rights and openness about directors and officers." These companies are BP Amoco, Imperial Chemical, Great Universal, Kingfisher and United News & Media.
Jobs lost in Ballina
Gencorps, a U.S. auto parts maker, has closed its manufacturing plant in Ballina, Co. Mayo, with the loss of 160 jobs. Jobs were also lost in Marion, Ind., as part of a major consolidation and rationalization of its automotive segment, GDX Automotive. A restructuring charge of between $14-18 million has been anticipated for the second quarter of 2001, which it believes will be sufficient to cover all plant closures and layoffs in both the U.S. and Ireland.
New business database
For Irish businesses and how to contact them, look no further than business — ie, a new database online courtesy of Kompass Ireland.
The company said that the database has 110,000 businesses listed as well as over 170,000 middle to senior contacts. All the key business sectors are covered including, manufacturing, industrial, wholesale, distribution, retail, professional and commercial services.
Biscuit jobs crumble
More jobs were lost this week at the Irish Biscuit plant in Tallaght, as part of a restructuring plan by Danone, its French parent company. One hundred people were laid off out of a 600-strong workforce. A spokesperson for the company has said that the job losses will be phased in over two years and will be made up of early retirement and attrition, although layoffs are also expected.
Director Neil Sanderson regretted the job losses, but said that increased competition and falling sales were to blame.