Enterprise Ireland client companies hit record-breaking €22.71bn in annual exports

12 Jul 2018

From left: David Moffitt, Kayfoam; Julie Sinnamon, Enterprise Ireland; Terence O’Rourke, Enterprise Ireland; and Minister Heather Humphreys, TD. Image: Chris Bellew/Fennell Photography

A new report shows Enterprise Ireland companies’ exports saw a 7pc boost in 2017.

Enterprise Ireland has announced that its clients recorded export sales of €22.71bn in 2017, representing a 7pc increase on figures from the previous year.

Total sales from Enterprise Ireland clients reached a massive €44.4bn, a 7pc increase on 2016.

It’s a major milestone for the agency, as the export sales level is the highest in its history and comes on the back of an eighth consecutive year of export growth for its clients.

According to the Export Performance in Global Markets report, eurozone exports saw growth of 9pc to €4.61bn in 2017. 89 Irish companies exported to the eurozone region for the first time in 2017 and close to 300 new contracts for Irish firms were secured in the area with the help of Enterprise Ireland.

The breakdown

France is the fourth-largest market for Enterprise Ireland companies and exports there grew 10pc in 2017. In German-speaking markets, growth of 5pc was seen last year. Biotech and pharma saw €450m worth of exports in the Benelux region. Companies exported a value of €3.96bn to the US and Canada. Asia Pacific exports grew by 9pc, while southern Europe, Middle East, Africa and India saw a growth of 6pc.

Despite the tumultuous political climate, UK exports grew 4pc to €7.62bn in 2017 and it remains Ireland’s biggest export market. As well as the export results, findings from a recent Brexit survey undertaken by the agency showed that 85pc of 2,400 clients surveyed are taking action to prepare for Brexit.

In terms of the top steps being taken, diversifying export markets, improving operational competitiveness, strengthening UK ties, developing strategic partnerships, improving financial management, and R&D development were the most cited. 53pc of clients also said Brexit would not affect their interest in investing and 65pc said their employment plans would be unmoved by political upheaval.

Robust export ecosystem

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys, TD, said that the figures are a reflection of the “robustness and success of Irish companies across the globe” that are taking advantage of State supports to boost innovation, competitiveness and diversity.

“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,” she added.

Positive economic signs

Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland, said: “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, Sinnamon said that Enterprise Ireland’s clients “are taking the necessary actions to offset the impact and manage the risks posed by Brexit”.

She continued: “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.”

As well as the exports report, Enterprise Ireland also launched a new Operational Excellence Offer to enable Irish exporters to develop or transform their businesses to compete more effectively. It covers funding, capability building and capital investment offers for exporters. Key needs across company value chains relating to Brexit will be examined, from supply chain management to internal operations.

A new Global Ambition website was also launched to create a hub for resources and supports for Irish exporters.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects