IRELAND has won a resounding vote of confidence from US financial bible 'Forbes', which named it the best country in the world for business.
The magazine placed Ireland first in its ranking of 145 nations for the first time since the annual list began in 2006.
"Despite economic troubles, Ireland still maintains an extremely pro-business environment that has attracted investments by some of the world's biggest companies over the past decade. In Forbes' eighth annual ranking of the Best Countries for Business, Ireland grabs the top spot for the first time," it said.
This is a massive boost for the country's hopes of driving recovery and boosting job figures via investment by large firms from across the Atlantic.
'Forbes' is hugely influential in the USA where it is published bi-weekly and enjoys a circulation of close to one million. It noted that wages here have dropped significantly since the recession began, while there is a "stubbornly high" unemployment rate, which means companies have a large pool of prospective workers to pick from.
Ireland moved up from its number six ranking last year on the strength of improved scores on monetary freedom, which gauges price stability and price controls. The 44pc return for the Irish Stock Exchange Overall Index in the 12 months to November 20 also propelled us up the league table.
"Ireland has continued to attract direct foreign investment despite its problems," Melanie Bowler of Moody's Analytics told 'Forbes'.
She cited the 12.5pc corporate tax rate, an educated workforce and the fact that there was a common language with the USA.
The IDA said today that the Forbes ranking will reach senior business people across the world.
Chief executive Barry O’Leary said: “Country rankings like this are used by companies across the world when they make initial decisions to investigate the possibility of locating their businesses internationally.”
“IDA Ireland intends to use the survey results as marketing material in key markets like the US and Europe.”
Jobs Minister Richard Bruton also welcomed the move, he said: “The findinsg by Forbes that we are the best country in the world for business is above all a testament to the hard work and innovation of our businesses and workers.
"It is the latest in a range of indicators which shows that the environment for business here is steadily improving, and shows that the hard work and sacrifices of so many people are yielding tangible results in terms of international competitiveness and the jobs we so badly need."
Meanwhile, rugby fans can take some satisfaction that Ireland managed to knock New Zealand off its pedestal of being number one in the world – at least in Forbes's eyes.
The nation drops to number two, although it remains a fast-growing economy with its GDP up 2.5pc last year.
Hong Kong ranks third for the second straight year, although economic growth has slowed there recently.
Two Scandinavian countries, Denmark and Sweden, complete the top five.
'Forbes' determined the 'Best Countries for Business' by grading 145 nations on 11 different factors: property rights, innovation, taxes, technology, corruption, freedom (personal, trade and monetary), red tape, investor protection and stock market performance.