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Ireland has been a member of the European Union EU since January 1 1973 The EU is a customs union having free trade among the 15 Member States while levying a common tariff on imports coming from non-EU countries Europe represents a market of over 370 million people Ireland has close transport connections to international markets No part of the country is more than 70 miles from a harbor or airport from which frequent shipping and air services connect with the UK Continental Europe and other international destinations An extensive road and rail network provides internal transportation supplemented by domestic air services between Dublin and Irelands three other international airports and its six regional airports The Celtic Tiger economy is the fastest growing economy in the EU and OECD The IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook ranks Ireland as the 7th most competitive economy in the world in 2001 gaining 2nd place after Singapore as the most global economy in an AT Kearney survey The past five years have witnessed real economic growth of 5-10 percent annually In 2000 the Irish economy achieved real GDP growth of 105 The outlook for future years is very positive with growth rates of 55-85 forecast This dramatic economic growth has pushed Ireland into second place in the EU in terms of per capita income Ireland attracted twenty-five percent of all new US investment in the EU from 1993-1999 mainly in the high-tech area According to a recent business survey foreign IT companies are attracted to Ireland for the following reasons 1 its easy access to the EU trading bloc 2 the 10 special rate of corporation tax and generous state subsidies 3 the quality and flexibility of the English speaking workforce - of all OECD countries only the Japanese workforce has a higher proportion of trained engineers and scientists 4 the pulling power of existing overseas high-tech companies operating successfully here According to the US Department of
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