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Ireland’s GDP to contract this year as multinational activity slows, ESRI warns

Irish gross domestic product (GDP) is forecast to contract for the first time in 10 years as multinational activity slows, a think tank has warned.

The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) said it expects Ireland’s GDP to contract this year by 1.6 per cent, but the domestic economy will continue to grow this year and into next year.

The ESRI said this is the first time there has been negative GDP growth since 2012 and comes after Ireland experienced two quarters in a row with falling GDP – the technical definition of a recession.

It comes amid concerns expressed at the volatility of corporate tax revenues in Ireland, mostly collected from large foreign-owned multinationals.

Ireland’s budgetary watchdog has warned that just three corporate groups account for around a third of all corporation tax receipts in the country.

The three groups paid €5.2 billion in corporation tax in 2021, or 8 per cent of the total tax revenues that year.

This is up from 5 per cent in 2017, and up from 4 per cent of total tax revenues in 1984.

The ESRI said on Wednesday that it expects modified domestic demand (MDD) – which captures consumption and investment in an attempt to measure the domestic economy – to increase by 1.8 per cent in the present year.

The ESRI added that while in the past, GDP has tended to overstate the degree of growth in the domestic economy, in the present case it actually understates the degree of activity in the domestic economy.

It also concluded that while the pace of price increases has been declining steadily, it expects the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to increase by 6 per cent this year and by 3.2 per cent in 2024.

This is an increase on its previous forecast, as inflation has not declined as quickly as had been forecast earlier this year.

Ahead of the Budget next week, the ESRI warned against “domestic pressures” which could add to high prices, and instead suggested investing in infrastructure.

“Notwithstanding the moderation in activity domestically and the slowdown in international trade, the domestic Irish economy is presently operating at capacity, in particular in relation to employment intensive sectors like construction,” it said.

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