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CSO statistical release, , 11am

Outward Foreign Affiliates Statistics


Turnover and number of persons engaged in Irish-owned foreign affiliates, 2014 - 2016
 Turnover (€millions)% Number of persons engaged%
 201412015120162016 201412015120162016
United States54,85958,26371,50237.1 172,478167,896198,66823.2
United Kingdom36,94144,21740,09520.8 95,376103,934106,12612.4
Other countries62,93469,15580,96642.0 477,919506,672551,25564.4
All countries154,734171,635192,563100.0 745,773778,502856,049100.0
1 Outward Foreign Affiliates Statistics were revised for 2014 and 2015

United States and United Kingdom dominate turnover in Irish multinationals abroad

Figure 1 Turnover in Irish-owned foreign affiliates, 2016
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In 2016, Irish multinationals abroad had turnover in excess of €192 billion, with US and UK affiliates accounting for almost 58% of this. There were over 856,000 persons employed in Irish multinationals abroad, 36% of whom were in the US and the UK.

Comparing 2016 to 2015, the turnover in Irish affiliates in the UK decreased by 9.3% while employment increased by 2,192 or 2.1%. Employment in Irish affiliates in the US rose by almost 30,800 or an 18.3% increase, while turnover increased by 22.7%. There was also a rise on 2015 levels in both employment and turnover in Irish multinationals in other countries. See Figures 1 & 2 and Headline table.

Outward Foreign Affiliates Statistics (OFATS) cover the activities of Irish multinationals abroad. The purpose of the survey is to allow analysis of the sectoral and geographical composition of the affiliates controlled by Irish multinationals. Care should be taken when analysing the Outward Foreign Affiliates Statistics as the register of Irish multinationals abroad can be subject to significant change in the short term.

An enterprise is deemed to be Irish owned if over 50% of its controlling interest is in Ireland. The population of foreign affiliates is subject to fluctuation based on international market conditions and the buying and selling of affiliates by Irish multinationals. Any enterprise that redomiciles their controlling operations to Ireland will have a bearing on the results, provided the above criteria are satisfied, as it would from that point be considered an Irish enterprise.

Please click the following link to access details of the methodology used:Compiling Foreign Affiliates Statistics (FATS) (PDF 228KB)

In terms of employment in Irish multinationals abroad by continent, Europe, Asia and America each accounted for approximately a third of the total, with employment in the remaining regions amounting to 2.5%. See Figure 3.

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Persons engaged

Figure 3: Employment in Irish affiliates abroad, 2016

Employment in Irish affiliates abroad, 2016

Several other countries with significant contribution to employment and turnover

Aside from the UK and the US, a number of other countries had a significant contribution to turnover and employment in 2016, with employment of over 20,000 in China, Germany and France. In terms of turnover, affiliates in Germany, the Netherlands, France and Poland each produced over €4 billion while there were a number of countries producing over €1 billion.

Other countries had just under 375,000 persons engaged or 43.8% of the total, and produced almost €40 billion or 20.7% of total turnover. See Figures 4 and 5.


Employment abroad in Irish multinationals dominated by Services

Services, which includes Distribution, was the dominant sector for employment in Irish affiliates abroad in 2016 with 84.2% of total persons engaged, while  Manufacturing affiliates accounted for 15.2% of total foreign affiliate employment. Other Industrial and Construction sectors employed 0.5% and 0.1% respectively. There is a similar picture when looking at turnover, where 82.4% of turnover generated was in Services and 15.3% in Manufacturing. See Figures 6 & 7.

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Persons engaged
Other industrial0.5

More turnover generated in Services than any other sector by Irish affiliates abroad

When looking at the sectoral composition of turnover generated by Irish affiliates abroad, the Services sector held the largest share with 46.5% of the overall figure, followed by Distribution at 35.9% and Manufacturing at 15.3%. The rest of the sectoral activities combined accounted for just over 2% of total turnover. See Figure 8.

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Other industrial2
Other Industrial2

European multinational employment outside EU dominated by UK, France and Germany

The number of persons engaged in Irish-owned foreign affiliates outside the EU was almost 535,000 in 2015. This represented 3.8% of the 14.2 million persons employed by European multinationals outside the EU. The largest contributors to this employment were French-owned foreign affiliates at 25%, German-owned foreign affiliates at 21.2% and British-owned foreign affiliates at 16%.  See Figure 9.

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% Employment

Irish multinational employment outside EU split between Manufacturing and Services

In terms of the sectoral breakdown of employment in European-owned foreign affiliates outside the EU, multinationals from Ireland, France and the United Kingdom had over 60% of their employment in the Services sector, higher than the EU average of 55.7%.  By contrast, German and Italian multinationals had a greater emphasis on Manufacturing than the EU average.  Employment in Irish-owned foreign affiliates outside the EU was split between Services at 81.8% and Manufacturing at 17.7%.   See Figure 10.


Irish multinational turnover outside EU dominated by Services

Looking at the figures for Irish owned multi-nationals outside the EU, it can be seen that the Services sector generated 74.8% of all turnover while 24.8% of turnover came from Manufacturing. Irish, German and French-owned multinationals each had over the EU average of 50.7% of their turnover from Services, while Italy and Germany generated more turnover from Manufacturing than the EU average.  See Figure 11.


Revisions to previous years

As a result of the ongoing development of the survey and register of Irish multinationals new information becomes available every year. Consequently, revisions were made to Outward Foreign Affiliates Statistics for previous years.

Total employment in Irish-owned foreign affiliates in 2015 was revised upwards from 773,852 persons to 778,502 persons and turnover from €168.2 billion to €171.6 billion. For reference year 2014 the revisions resulted in an increase in turnover from €151.4 billion to €154.7 billion and total employment increased from 741,123 persons to 745,773 persons. Sectoral and country breakdowns were also amended.

All Outward Foreign Affiliates data can be accessed on the CSO Databank Service 

Table 1 Persons engaged in Irish-owned foreign affiliates by sector, 2010 - 2016
Other industrial21,2353,0702,3954,7154,2874,4004,127
All sectors718,404694,582687,876728,517745,773778,502856,049
1 Outward Foreign Affiliates Statistics were revised for 2014 and 2015
Table 2 Turnover in Irish-owned foreign affiliates by sector, 2010 - 2016
Other industrial3,1493,2583,3423,5853,5473,6163,813
All sectors134,772129,365131,199153,475154,734171,635192,563
1 Outward Foreign Affiliates Statistics were revised for 2014 and 2015

Background Notes

Outward Foreign Affiliates Statistics (OFATS)

Target population

The target population for outward FATS comprises all foreign-based affiliates that are controlled by an institutional unit resident in the compiling country. The units that complete the CSO Outward FATS survey are resident institutional units i.e. Irish multinationals.  The Outward FATS survey requires the CSO to survey domestic-based Irish multinationals and request information about their foreign-based affiliates.

Data source

The CSO carry out a survey to capture the outward FATS information.  On the survey form respondents are required to complete a list of foreign affiliates that are under the control of the Irish multinational.

The required variables for each foreign affiliate are as follows:

•             Name of foreign affiliate

•             Country in which foreign affiliate is located

•             Description of the activity of the foreign affiliate (which is coded to NACE Rev. 2 activity codes)                         

•             Shares in registered capital of foreign affiliate (only a shareholding of 51% or greater in a foreign affiliate is taken for compilation purposes).  

•             Turnover

•             Number of persons engaged

Main Concepts and Definitions

1.  Institutional unit

An institutional unit is an elementary economic decision-making centre characterised by uniformity of behaviour and decision-making autonomy in the exercise of its principal function.  A unit is regarded as constituting an institutional unit if it has decision-making autonomy in respect of its principal function and keeps a complete set of accounts.

2.  Foreign Affiliate

A foreign affiliate is enterprise not resident in the compiling country over which an institutional unit resident in the compiling country has control (Outward FATS).

3.  Control

The concept of control is used for the breakdown of the FATS variables.  Control means the ability to determine the general policy of an enterprise by choosing appropriate directors, if necessary.  In this context, enterprise A is deemed to be controlled by an institutional unit B when B controls, whether directly or indirectly, more than half of the shareholders’ voting power or more than half of the shares.

Indirect control means that an institutional unit may have control through another affiliate which has control over enterprise A. 

Therefore, control implies the ability to determine the strategy of an enterprise, to guide its activities and to appoint a majority of directors.  In most cases, this ability can be exercised by a single investor holding a majority (more than 50 %) of the voting power or of the shares, directly or indirectly.

4.  Ultimate controlling institution (UCI)

The ultimate controlling institution (UCI) of a foreign affiliate is an institutional unit, proceeding up a foreign affiliate’s chain of control, which is not controlled by another institutional unit.  FATS data are compiled according to the UCI concept.  The crucial characteristic of a UCI is that it should effectively control and manage the group, i.e. take global strategic decisions.

Therefore, in the case of Ireland, Outward FATS describes the activities of affiliates abroad where the UCI is an Irish resident institutional unit. 

5.  Residency

The place of residency of an UCI is the country of registration of the UCI in the case of legal entities and the country of residence in the case of natural persons acting as UCI.  Residency is often but not always the nationality of the UCI.

Geographical Breakdown

The Outward FATS variables are broken down by the resident country of the foreign affiliates.  These countries have been amalgamated into geographical aggregates which are listed separately.

Activity Breakdown

The NACE Rev. 2 sectors covered by the Outward FATS data are as follows:

A - Agriculture, forestry and fishing

B - Mining and quarrying

C - Manufacturing

D - Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply

E - Water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities

F - Construction

G - Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles

H - Transportation and storage

I - Accommodation and food service activities

J - Information and communication

K - Financial and insurance activities

L - Real estate activities

M - Professional, scientific and technical activities

N - Administrative and support service activities

P - Education

Q - Human health and social work activities

R - Arts, entertainment and recreation

S - Other service activities

Please click the following link to access details of the methodology used:

 Compiling Foreign Affiliates Statistics (FATS) (PDF 228KB)

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