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Austria is one of the 12 richest countries in the world in terms of GDP per capita, has a well-developed social market economy, and a high standard of living. Until the 1980s, many of Austria's largest industry firms were nationalised; in recent years, however, privatisation has reduced state holdings to a level comparable to other European economies. Labour movements are particularly strong in Austria and have large influence on labour politics. Next to a highly-developed industry, international tourism is the most important part of the national economy. Germany has historically been the main trading partner of Austria, making it vulnerable to rapid changes in the German economy. However, since Austria became a member state of the European Union it has gained closer ties to other European Union economies, reducing its economic dependence on Germany. In addition, membership in the EU has drawn an influx of foreign investors attracted by Austria's access to the single European market and proximity to the aspiring economies of the European Union. Growth in GDP accelerated in recent years and reached 3.3% in 2006. In 2004 Austria was the fourth richest country within the European Union, having a GDP (PPP) per capita of approximately € 27,666, with Luxembourg, Ireland, and Netherlands leading the list. Vienna was ranked the fifth richest NUTS-2 region within Europe with GDP reaching € 38,632 per capita, just behind Inner London, Luxembourg, Brussels-Capital Region and Hamburg. Growth has been steady in recent years 2002-2006 varying between 1 and 3.3 %.


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