Ireland’s overall competitiveness performance remains positive. Our improved fiscal position and favourable cost competitiveness have contributed to Ireland’s overall international competitiveness. This improvement is reflected in a range of metrics, notably economic growth, increased employment, falling unemployment and a strong trade performance. Ireland’s inflation figures are particularly encouraging. In 2018, the inflation rate in Ireland was 0.7%, which was the lowest in the euro area, and the joint lowest in the EU.
Notwithstanding this strong position, addressing Ireland’s competitiveness remains a key economic priority for Government. We continue to monitor Ireland's cost base and to analyse the factors that are crucial to improving our competitiveness.
A range of initiatives are in train across Departments to: enhance our cost competitiveness and productivity; improve the ease of doing business; reduce the administrative burden businesses face; and, drive greater efficiencies across the enterprise base.
Significantly, my Department and the Department of the Taoiseach have recently published Future Jobs Ireland, a cross-government initiative with a strong focus on improving productivity.
This initiative has proposed concrete and ambitious actions to enhance our productivity and competitiveness and will ensure that we are well positioned to adapt to transformational changes the economy will face in the years ahead.
Increasing productivity is the only long-term sustainable way of increasing the standard of living for our people, and there are a range of specific initiatives in train across Government to enhance our competitiveness performance, including:
The review of SME policy designed to assess the SME business ecosystem and the range of supports offered to SMEs being undertaken by my Department in conjunction with the OECD;
The development of an Industry 4.0 strategy to respond to the challenges and opportunities arising from the impact of digital technologies; and
The Future Growth Loan Scheme that will allow businesses to borrow for up to 10 years to support capital investment and enhance their competitiveness.