DUBLIN, Jan 3 (Reuters) - The number of people employed in Ireland by multinational companies hit an all-time high in 2013, rising 4.5 percent as its low corporate tax rate continued to help draw foreign firms to the country.
Ireland's corporate tax regime has been criticised as unfairly competitive by other European states, many of which helped bail out the euro zone member following a devastating property crash.
The number of people employed by multinationals climbed by 7,000 to 161,000, the fastest rate of growth in over a decade, as Ireland completed its EU/IMF bailout, the state investment agency IDA said in a statement on Friday.
Jobs minister Richard Bruton said job creation by multinationals, including Deutsche Bank, Twitter and eBay, had played a major role in employment growth of 3 percent last year. Full-year figures for 2013 are not yet available but 58,000 jobs were created in Ireland in the year to the end of September.
The jobless rate dropped to 12.5 percent from a peak of 15.1 percent in 2012 as the economy slowly recovers.
Ireland has come under severe pressure since a U.S. Senate committee investigation revealed in May that Apple had cut billions from its tax bill by declaring companies registered in Ireland as not tax resident in any country.
But the IDA said tax rates are likely to remain a competitive advantage for Ireland as the international tax system is reformed, the IDA said.
While critics say that multinationals pay tax on economic activity that takes place outside of Ireland, Irish officials have argued that the imbalance is less pronounced than in other jurisdictions.
"We believe there will be over time, a stronger relationship between real economic substance and corporate tax regimes, which should ensure Ireland continues to win the maximum amount of FDI for Ireland," the IDA said.