Enterprise Ireland, the state agency responsible for helping Irish companies export to international markets, has announced that its clients recorded export sales of €22.71bn in 2017, representing a 7 per cent increase on 2016.
This is the highest level of export sales recorded in the history of the agency and the eighth-consecutive year of clients’ export growth. In 2017, Enterprise Ireland clients achieved total sales of €44.4bn, up 8 per cent on 2016.
Exports to the Eurozone region, which account for 20 per cent of all exports, saw strong growth of 9 per cent to €4.61bn in 2017.
Enterprise Ireland supported 89 Irish companies to export to the Eurozone for the first time in 2017. In addition, close to 300 new contracts were secured for Irish companies in the Eurozone with Enterprise Ireland assistance.
Exports to the UK, the largest market for Irish exports, representing 34 per cent of exports, delivered growth of 4 per cent to €7.62bn.
In tandem with the export results, Enterprise Ireland also released findings of a recent Brexit survey of over 2,400 clients which found that 85 per cent of clients are taking Brexit related actions.
The top measures that they are taking are; diversifying their export markets, improving operational competitiveness, strengthening their business in the UK, developing strategic partnerships, improving financial management and investing in R&D.
Additionally, 53% of clients surveyed said that in 2018, Brexit would not change their ability and appetite to invest, while 65% said it would not change their employment plans.
Welcoming the results, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD said:
These export figures by clients of Enterprise Ireland reflect the robustness and success of Irish companies across the globe, who are availing of State supports to be competitive, innovative and market-diversified.
“While the Irish exporting landscape is strong and we are winning business worldwide, Brexit is the biggest challenge currently facing Irish business.
“Our officials in Enterprise Ireland are very focused on supporting clients to prepare for a hard Brexit and clearly this work is paying off, so I would urge any homegrown firm not currently tapping into this offering to consider doing so.”
Presenting the results today, Julie Sinnamon, Enterprise Ireland CEO said: “Irish companies are achieving international global sales at record levels, following consistent year-on-year growth for the past eight consecutive years.
“Our target is to achieve export sales of €26bn per annum by 2020 and Enterprise Ireland is strategically focused on supporting clients to achieve this growth and a more diversified export market portfolio.
“The economic indicators are positive for continued growth, and we are working with the strongest cohort of companies ever, competing and winning in more diversified export markets than ever before.”
On Brexit, Julie Sinnamon said: “The UK market which is, and will remain, our largest market, performed well in 2017, delivering growth of 4 per cent, despite the prevailing challenges, including volatility and uncertainty.
“We are working closely with UK dependent clients to help them to trade through the unpredictability and to protect hard-won market share in the UK.
“With our support, Enterprise Ireland clients are taking the necessary actions to offset the impact and manage the risks posed by Brexit.
“At the same time, we are progressing with our strategic ambition to expand the Irish export footprint in diversified global markets, reducing overall UK market exposure to one-third by 2020.”
Commenting on the announcement, Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD said:
“The figures released by the agency show that the strongest growth globally was in food exports, which totaled €11.58bn, up 10 per cent on 2016, while the combined category of lifesciences, engineering, paper, print and packaging, electronics and cleantech saw exports of €4.05bn, up 7 per cent on 2016.
“In addition to strong growth across the Eurozone and the UK, exports also performed strongly in other territories, with 7 per cent growth in exports to the US and Canada to €3.96bn, while exports to the Asia Pacific region grew by 9 per cent to €1.97bn.
“The figures demonstrate the strong opportunities for international trade for ambitious Irish companies and that the efforts by Enterprise Ireland in encouraging companies to diversify their export markets and improve competitiveness is working.”
Michael Brougham, Regional Director – Mid East, Enterprise Ireland, said:
“Enterprise Ireland companies from all the regions of Ireland are achieving international success, and companies based in Kildare and the wider Mid East region are no exception having demonstrated significant growth.
“ It is these local, innovative companies with global ambition that form the backbone of our regional economy.
“With Enterprise Ireland support at a local level, we have seen the growth of indigenous job creation in competitive sectors like construction, engineering and technology.”
To further strengthen the supports to Irish businesses in the face of Brexit, Enterprise Ireland has launched a new Operational Excellence Offer to enable Irish companies trading internationally to develop or transform their wider business in order to compete more effectively.
The Operational Excellence Offer covers funding, capability building and capital investment offers for companies trading internationally, to incentivise companies to address their needs across key aspects of their value chain and business operations; from supply chain management, internal business and production operations, and through to logistics and distribution networks.
Enterprise Ireland has also launched a new Global Ambition website www.globalambition.ie providing a focal point for resources, supports and international market access information for Irish exporters.