Policy & History

U.S. relations with Ireland have long been based on common ancestral ties and shared values, and emigration has been a foundation of the U.S.-Irish relationship. Besides regular dialogue on political and economic issues, the U.S. and Irish Governments have official exchanges in areas such as medical research and education. With Ireland’s membership in the European Union (EU), discussions of EU trade and economic policies as well as other aspects of EU policy have also become key elements in the U.S.-Irish relationship.

Irish citizens have continued a common practice of taking temporary residence overseas for work or study, mainly in Australia, the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom (U.K.), and elsewhere in Europe. Along with an increased interest in long-term emigration, there has been a surge of interest in “mid-term” emigration for 3-5 years, which has been mirrored in Irish Government interest in a specialized extended-stay visa for mid-career professionals to live/work in the U.S. The U.S. J-1 visa program is popular means for Irish youths to work temporarily in the United States; a bilateral program expansion in 2008 that provides further opportunities for recent graduates to spend up to 1 year in the United States has been undersubscribed.

U.S. priorities continue to be supporting the peace process and devolved political institutions in Northern Ireland and encouraging the implementation of the U.S.-brokered 1998 Belfast Agreement, also known as the Good Friday Agreement, and the 2006 St. Andrews Agreement.

Economic and trade ties are an important facet of overall U.S.-Irish relations. U.S. exports to Ireland include electrical components and equipment, computers and peripherals, drugs and pharmaceuticals, and livestock feed. Irish exports to the United States include alcoholic beverages, chemicals and related products, electronic data processing equipment, electrical machinery, textiles and clothing, and glassware. U.S. firms year after year account for over half of Ireland’s total exports.

U.S. investment has been particularly important to the growth and modernization of Irish industry over the past 25 years, providing new technology, export capabilities, and employment opportunities. There are approximately 600 U.S. subsidiaries in Ireland that employ roughly 100,000 people and span activities from manufacturing of high-tech electronics, computer products, medical supplies, and pharmaceuticals to retailing, banking, finance, and other services. In more recent years, Ireland has also become an important research and development center for U.S. firms in Europe.

Ireland and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. Ireland is also a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Partnership for Peace program.