Economic and trade relations
With regards to trade, France is Ireland’s 6th largest supplier and 6th largest customer (2013 CSO data). Our trade remains highly unbalanced in favour of Ireland, with a trade deficit of €1,930 billion. In reality, this deficit is largely structural, reflecting the strong presence of FDI in Ireland (mainly American) representing three quarters of Irish exports.
In contrast, import statistics tend to understate our actual market share to the extent that they do not take into account French-originating flows through Belgium and the United Kingdom, used as logistics hubs.
With regards to foreign direct investment (FDI), France remains far behind the United States, with 5% of FDI, accounting for 130 establishments, employing about 13,000 people. As of late 2012, outstanding French FDI in Ireland recorded a peak at €18,3 billion, up 9,5% over 2011. The main investment items are the food industry, manufacturing, insurance, and financial and insurance activities.
While French investment in Ireland continues in financial services, high tech, and utilities (environment, energy), it is, on the contrary, contracting in traditional industries. For their part, the primary Irish investors in France include Jefferson Smurfit Group (paper pulp, packaging), Cement Roadstone Holdings (cement producer worldwide), and Kerry Group (No. 1 in the Irish agri-foods industry).
Finally, we should mention the rapid growth of Irish low-cost airlines to French destinations : Ryanair, and Aer Lingus. France has become an important Irish tourist destination. The contracts signed recently have focused on the sale of Airbus, tramways and a thermal power plant (Alstom), and an automated toll system (Sanef).