DUBLIN: Ireland's economy rose by 3.4 per cent in 2020 despite the pandemic as the coronavirus fuelled a boom in pharmaceutical and IT exports, finance minister Paschal Donohoe said Friday.
Ireland fared better than bigger eurozone economies such as Germany and France, which plunged into recessions last year as the pandemic shut down the global economy.
Donohoe said the GDP growth was "remarkable" and "is entirely a result of the growth in exports" from the eurozone-member nation.
Despite a slowdown in global demand, Irish exports grew by 6.25 per cent last year, according to figures from the country's finance ministry.
"The pharma and ICT (Information and Communication Technology) sectors recorded extraordinary export growth, driven by blockbuster immunological drugs, Covid related products, and the shift to home-working," Donohoe said.
Ireland's outsized multinational export sector has a warping effect on the headline GDP figure of the nation -- home to just five million.
Modified domestic demand -- a figure that strips out the effects of multinationals -- registered a 5.4 per cent dip in 2020.
Donohoe said it is "a figure much closer to the typical fall across advanced economies".
The Irish finance ministry said there had been a "two-speed impact of the pandemic" on the economy as multinational corporations drove the highest level of exports on record.
Meanwhile, domestic activities are "bearing the brunt" and "indigenous exports" of food and drink slumped, according to Donohoe.
Ireland has suffered 4,396 deaths from the coronavirus, according to the latest official figures.
It is currently in the midst of a third lockdown due to last at least until April.
After navigating two previous waves of the pandemic with low case and death figures, the virus surged at the start of the year.
In early January the nation had the highest infection rate per capita in the world, according to Oxford University data.