IBEC upbeat as it raises growth forecast to 1%

Employers’ representative, IBEC has upped its outlook for economic growth this year to 1% — making the organisation one of the most bullish commentators on the economy.

While the increase is only marginal — up from 0.9% from its first-quarter economic outlook — the move is significant as the organisation had lowered its forecasts at the turn of the year.

Most relevant commentators are anticipating GDP growth of between 0.5% and 0.7%.

The Central Bank has pencilled in growth of 0.5% for this year, before a more healthy 2.1% increase in 2013; while the Government recently lowered its initial 2012 forecast from 1.3% to 0.7%.

In terms of international commentators, Ernst & Young recently forecast Irish GDP would only grow by 0.1% this year, while Merrill Lynch lowered its outlook for Irish growth from 1.6% to 0.6%.

But speaking yesterday on the back of the publication of IBEC’s second-quarter economic outlook, the organisation’s chief economist, Fergal O’Brien said: “Following a return to economic growth in 2011, for the first time in four years, the economy will grow by 1% this year.

“International trading conditions remain difficult, but exporters continue to benefit from competitiveness improvements and the weaker euro has helped exports to non-eurozone countries.”

“Investment by industry in new equipment and machinery will grow again this year, reflecting the strong export performance of recent years and Ireland’s ongoing attractiveness to foreign direct investment investment.

“The jobs outlook has also improved somewhat over recent months and the export recovery has meant that job creation has exceeded job losses for the first time since 2007.”

IBEC has also reiterated its call for a yes vote in the upcoming referendum on the Fiscal Treaty.

According to Mr O’Brien: “The result of the referendum on May 31 will have a direct impact on the Irish economy.

“A yes vote is crucial to our future economic prospects. The treaty will provide a better set of rules for the public finances and help ensure Ireland remains an attractive location for investment.

“Crucially, from a business perspective, it will make it easier for Irish corporates to raise funding in international debt markets.”

“The economics of this treaty are solid and, together with other reforms already agreed, will help all eurozone countries avoid future public finance crises.

“This treaty will not result in any additional austerity for the Irish economy and those who claim it will, clearly do not understand the economics of the treaty.”

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