Gold bars are a staple of Ireland’s economy, and it’s one of the reasons why Ireland is the only country in the EU to still be allowed to export gold.
The country’s gold sales have risen from a mere €2.5bn in 2014 to €4.3bn in 2017, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO), with a peak of €17.3 billion in 2016.
Gold bars are sold in Ireland as a convenience item and, although the country’s exports are also worth about €5bn, it’s the gold bars which are the main export category.
There are currently around 1.3 million gold bars, with the vast majority of them owned by Irish households, but the Irish Central Bank has started to buy up to €2,000 worth of gold each week.
At the same time, the price of gold has fallen in recent years, and Ireland is now importing around half its gold imports.
Gold exports are an important part of the Irish economy, with exports to the UK totalling €1.9bn in 2018, with a further €837m coming from the US.
Gold imports from the UK are worth €1,000 each, and the Irish Government recently announced it was opening up the Irish market for the US and European demand, with plans to buy around €30bn worth of US gold in the next three years.
The European Central Bank is also investing in the Irish gold market, with an initial investment of €1bn.
The Government has also announced it is buying up to 200 tonnes of Irish gold in 2017.