By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — Irish economic growth shuddered to a halt in the last quarter of 2001 with a zero GDP increase in the three months, according to the latest Quarterly National Accounts from the Central Statistics Office.
For the year as a whole, GDP growth slowed to 5.9 percent, compared to 11.5 percent the year before and 10.8 percent in 1999.
The largest growth of the recent boom was a sizzling 14.3 percent in the final quarter of 1999, the peak period of the Celtic Tiger boom.
Before foot-and-mouth, the fallout from the Sept. 11 attacks on America and the weakening international demand, last year started with a respectable 12.3 percent GDP growth in the first quarter.
The CSO said that while growth early last year was strong, it was all downhill for the rest of the year as the international slowdown began to bite, capital investment ebbed away and exports halved.
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By the fourth quarter, the GDP level was standing still at the same level as the corresponding quarter in 2000.
The figures show that total GDP for the fourth quarter of 2001 was static at euro 224 billion and for the year was euro 894 billion.
GNP estimated at euro 192 billion in the fourth quarter was up 3.8 percent. For the full year GNP was up 5 percent at euro 743 billion.
Consumer spending remained strong and was up 4.8 percent in 2001 but capital investment was only 0.5 percent higher.
Exports and imports last year rose in volume by 8.4 percent and 7.7 percent respectively — significantly down on the respective increases of 17.8 percent and 16.6 percent in 2000.
Menwhile, the CSO also reports that exports to the U.S. increased by almost 5 percent to 1,432.7 million in January.
The increase was part of a bounce-back in trade during the month when overall exports showed a 10 percent increase to euro 82 billion.
Exports of medical and pharmaceutical products shot up by 98 percent and computer exports were up 20 percent while telecommunications equipment dropped 26 percent.
Imports increased by only 1 percent which resulted in a trade surplus of euro 30 billion for the month.
The figures show that while Britain and North Ireland still account for 26 percent of exports, trade with the EU has now grown to 38 percent. The U.S. and Canada account for 18 percent of exports and the rest of the world 17 percent.
However, on the import side, 41 percent came from Britain with 20 percent from other EU countries, 18 percent from the U.S. and Canada and 19 percent from the rest of the world.