Small Advanced Open Economies – Thought Leadership Discussion

The Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service (IGEES), Department of Public Expenditure and Department of Finance hosted the Small Advanced Open Economies – Thought Leadership Discussion in Iveagh House, Dublin on the 31st January 2019.

Minister Paschal Donohoe addressed a full house of Ministers, Ambassadors and distinguished guests with our Irish Missions abroad joining live.  He set the context of the debate about globalisation and small open economies, in particular how small open economies (SOE) grapple with globalisation when the nature of globalisation is changing. He announced that Ireland is joining the OECD Network of Open Economies and Inclusive Societies.

Robert Watt (Sec Gen, D/PER) (Right) opened the event and questioned the nature of small open economies to prompt discussion.  Jasmina Behan (IGEES) (Left) chaired the first panel discussion with Dr David Skilling, Michael O’Sullivan and Dr Stephen Kinsella.

Our guest speakers, Michael O’Sullivan (Credit Suisse)  (left) and Dr David Skilling (Landfall Strategy Group) (Right), shared their insights on the performance of SOE showing that they outperform larger economies with a higher average per capita income and out-pace on growth 1998-2018. Key to this success is ‘getting the basics right’; being competitive, especially in human capital and innovation; having lower levels of debt and building alliances.

Stephen Kinsella (University of Limerick) highlighted that most countries are SOE and that an alternative categorisation by income level and degree of complexity might be more informative. A suggested next step might be to seek partner nations in the shared space of common interest.



Críona Brassill (Left) and Robert Keogh (Right) (IGEES) shared key discussion points from their Budget 2019 paper.  Robert outlined the filters to define a SOE.  He highlighted Ireland’s relatively large magnitude of movement in real GDP growth; comparatively strong reduction in Ireland’s unemployment rate; comparatively high tertiary education and comparatively low participation rates, for both genders. Críona shared how an income indicator was comparatively low in 2016 though it had increased by almost 11 percent 2014-2016. Ireland’s performance across the 23 indicators 2007-2017 had broad similarities with Iceland, Belgium and Luxembourg; some but fewer with some Eastern European countries; and few similarities with New Zealand and most Nordic countries.


The audience were engaged in the subsequent panel discussion.  The Minister presented to the Speakers one of the newly issued Central Bank of Ireland €2 coins to commemorate the centenary of the meeting of the First Dáil in the Mansion House on 21 January 1919.

John McCarthy (D/Finance) chaired the second panel discussion, Integrating into Policy Analysis with Nicolas Ruiz, David Hegarty and Seán Ó Riain.






Our guest speaker, Nicolas Ruiz (OECD Economics Department) shared insights from his research of the members of the OECD Network of Small Open and Inclusive Societies which was published as Country Snapshots. Ireland’s comparative strong performance was evident with high foreign direct investment, trade exposure, low barriers to openness and high levels of inclusiveness and redistribution.


David Hegarty (D/Business, Enterprise & Innovation) outlined the Small Advanced Economies Initiative and the positive outcomes from policy makers gathering informally to explore areas of common interest and emerging challenges.  He shared key findings from his recent paper Regional Policy and Dominant Cities.


Seán Ó Riain (Maynooth University) discussed the SOE model. He shared key areas of importance for SOEs; including how the export sector functions; caution on the move from trade discipline to unstable finance; and the changing nature of international relations.


Derek Moran (Sec Gen, D/Finance) closed the event noting that Speakers had referenced the importance of getting the basics of fiscal management right for SOE and the buffer of low debt and the five Heads of Treasuries meet annually to discuss areas of common interest and emerging challenges.




(Including Links to the Presentations)

Session A: Macro Perspective – Indicators and Trends

Presentation 1Small Advanced Economy Insights for Ireland

Dr Skellig, Founding Director of Landfall Straegy Group & Michael O’Sullivan, Chief Investment Officer for the International Wealth Management Division, Credit Suisse. 

Presentation 2Macro Perspective Indicators and Trends

Dr Stephen Kinsella, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Limerick, Ireland

Presentation 3Small Advanced Open Economies – A Comparative Analysis

Críona Brassill & Robert Keogh, Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. 

Speech by Minister Paschal Donohoe – Subject to Delivery

Note on the OECD Network for Open Economies and Inclusive Societies

Session B: Integrating into Policy Analysis

Presentation 4OECD Deliverables to the Network for Open Economies and Inclusive Societies

Nicolas Ruiz, Economist, OECD Economics Department and co-editor of the OECD publication ‘Going for Growth’

Presentation 5Small Advanced Economies Initiative – Regional Policy and Dominant Cities

David Hegarty, Assistant Secretary, Department of Buisness, Enterprise and Innovation and Small Advanced Economies Initiative Principal

Presntation 6Is Ireland a Real Small Open Economy

Professor Seán Ó Riain, Professor of Sociology, Maynooth University