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Ireland boasts fastest-growing economy in EU

Ireland has logged the fastest growth rate of all 28 EU member countries. Fresh figures from the national statistics office revealed that both strong exports and domestic demand contributed to the surge.

Gross domestic product in Ireland expanded by 4.8 percent in 2014, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) reported Thursday, marking the biggest GDP growth rate in all of the European Union.

The Irish output expansion rate was far higher than the EU average of 1.3 percent and the eurozone average of just 0.9 percent last year.

The government in Dublin said the country has enjoyed strong growth after it became the first of the financially-rescued eurozone nations to exit its bailout program. That had been made possible after deep cuts in state spending, hefty tax hikes, structural reforms and the sale of some state assets.

Clever debt reshuffling

"Economic growth is now broadly balanced, exports are contributing to competitiveness gains while the domestic economy is now also contributing positively," Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan said in a statement, adding the government planned additional measures to drive growth and create jobs.

Watch video 06:39

Ireland: International bailout exit (2013)

The minister also confirmed that Dublin would proceed with its plan to repay a further 5.5 billion euros ($5.84 billion) to the IMF years early, as the country keeps replacing expensive bailout debt with more favorable debt.

"This early repayment of the majority of IMF loans will deliver savings of over 1.5 billion euros over the lifetime of the loans," Noonan said.

hg/bk (AFP, dpa)

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