IDA Ireland has said that 6,570 net jobs were created by IDA companies last year.

In its end-of-year review, the government agency responsible for attracting foreign direct investment said that job losses were the lowest in a decade.

A total of 12,722 positions were created by IDA-supported companies last year, but 6,152 jobs were also lost.

The IDA said its client base in Ireland now employs 152,785 people, a level last recorded before the global financial crisis in 2008.

The biggest single project last year was the creation of 1,000 positions at Paypal in Dundalk, Co. Louth.

Other big investments included Northern Trust, Apple, EA Games, Cisco, Allergan and Eli Lilly.

There were 145 individual investments last year, with 66 from companies coming to Ireland for the first time.

The IDA said the prospects for 2013 are promising, but there are challenges due to the global slowdown and competition from other countries.

According to figures from Forfás, IDA client exports rose by 7.5 percent in 2011, faster than the national average of 5.7 percent. It also noted that IDA companies spent €18.8 billion in the Irish economy in 2011, up 10 percent compared to 2010 data.

Expenditure on Irish-sourced materials rose from €1.5 billion to €1.7 billion, while IDA firms also spent €9.6 billion on Irish-sourced services last year, up from €8.5 billion in 2010.

IDA Ireland Chief Executive Barry O'Leary said that key global companies continue to select Ireland as a destination of choice because of the country's talented workforce, technology capability, corporation tax and strong foreign direct investment track record.

"But Ireland faces a highly competitive landscape, with notable strong competition arising from the U.K., the Netherlands and Switzerland and many other countries,” he added.

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