Economists raise Irish growth outlook despite Brexit looming

Bloomberg survey reveals more optimistic forecasts for economy in 2018 and 2019

Figures published last week show the Irish economy grew by 5.2 per cent in 2016, with little signs that Brexit has started to hurt output. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Figures published last week show the Irish economy grew by 5.2 per cent in 2016, with little signs that Brexit has started to hurt output. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA Wire

 

A group of economists have become more optimistic about the prospects for the Irish economy, upgrading their growth forecast for 2017 even as Brexit nears.

The economists, who were polled by Bloomberg, now say the Irish economy will expand 3.5 per cent in 2017, up from 3.1 per cent previously, and more optimistic than the Central Bank’s 3.3 percent estimate released in January.

The group of 22 economists predict growth of 3 per cent in 2018 and 2.5 per cent in 2019 for the Irish economy. Figures published last week show that the Irish economy grew by 5.2 per cent in 2016, with little signs that Brexit has started to hurt output. Ireland outstripped growth in all other euro zone countries and most official forecasts for the third successive year.

Alan McQuaid, chief economist with Merrion Capital, said that as Ireland was “clearly the most exposed” within the EU to Brexit, it probably would lead to a slowdown in growth.

“However, falling unemployment and a strengthening construction sector should continue to see Ireland as one of the top performers within the EU, at least for the next couple of years or so,” he said.