Agriculture, once the most important sector of the economy, now engages only 8% of the workforce. The raising of dairy and beef cattle, sheep, pigs, and poultry is the chief agricultural enterprise. Among the leading crops are flax, oats, wheat, turnips, barley, potatoes, and sugar beets. The republic's industries account for more than 45% of its gross domestic product and 80% of its exports, and employ roughly 30% of its workforce. Products include steel, foodstuffs, beer and ale, textiles, clothing, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, machinery, transportation equipment, vehicles, ships, computer and telecommunications hardware, computer software, linen and laces (for which Ireland is famous), crystal, and handicrafts. The main ports are Dublin and Cork. Around the free port of Shannon are factories producing electronic equipment, chemicals, plastics, and textiles. Copper, lead, zinc, silver, barite, and gypsum are mined, and oil and natural gas are produced offshore. Tourism is also very important. Ireland's main exports are machinery, computers, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, live animals, and animal products. Imports include data processing and other equipment, chemicals, petroleum products, textiles, and clothing. The main trading partners are Great Britain, the United States, and Germany.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.