Enterprise Ireland targets 50% increase in eurozone exports

The state agency is launching a new ‘Irish Advantage’ campaign...

Enterprise Ireland targets 50% increase in eurozone exports

A young member of the Fine Gael party celebrates victory in the 2009 Lisbon Treaty referendum | Image: Niall Carson/PA Archive/PA Images

Enterprise Ireland has revealed its ambitions for Irish export business to the eurozone to see a 50% increase by 2020.

The target for its client companies is part of a new strategy to take advantage of Brexit through increased funding, resources and company supports to enter and scale in the eurozone.

The state agency responsible for helping Irish firms sell overseas also announced a new digital ‘Irish Advantage’ campaign that will promote Irish innovation and creativity in key Brexit-impacted sectors.

enterprise-ireland.com

It says that a key theme will be to “highlight how buyers looking to Ireland can trust in the reliability of the supply chain and the quality of the goods and services being delivered from a country which is strongly committed to the EU.”

The Eurozone Strategy will find Enterprise Ireland partnering with some 600 companies, divided roughly equally between ‘Eurozone Start’ (new to the market and heavily UK-reliant) and ‘Eurozone Scale’ (already exporting to the eurozone) businesses.

Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon said:

“This strategy is about driving one of the most significant shifts in the footprint of our client exports into the Eurozone. We have to work on the basis that Brexit will create new barriers to Irish trade with the UK.

"On the other hand, Eurozone markets can provide currency stability, proximity and potential for growth and opportunities for Irish companies.

“We have identified priority sectors and growth targets in areas like construction, engineering, food and the life sciences/medtech sectors and will significantly increase our work with clients to help them on the export journey to identify market opportunities, undertake research and study visits, enter the markets and ultimately secure market growth and scale.”

A mock customs post is set up at Ravensdale, Co Louth. Picture by: Niall Carson/PA Wire/PA Images

The plan was unveiled as Enterprise Ireland announced that its clients had recorded export sales of €21.6bn last year.  That marked a 6% increase on 2015.

The effects of Brexit were already being strongly felt, however, as export growth to the UK slowed from 12% in 2015 to a mere 2% in 2016. The slowdown was largely due to a decline in food exports. The UK accounts for €7.5bn of our total exports.

Figures released by the agency also showed that the strongest export growth globally was in software and internationally traded services, which grew by 16% to €4.3bn; lifesciences, engineering, cleantech, paper print, packaging and electronics (up 10% to €3.9bn); and construction, timber and consumer retail (up 8% to €2.9bn). 

Export sales grew across most territories with the USA & Canada increasing fastest by 19 percent to €3.7bn, followed by exports to the Asia Pacific region, up 16 per cent to €1.8bn.

Speaking at the announcement, Taoiseach Enda Kenny stated:

“Following the UK's decision to leave the EU, the Government immediately acted to ensure our Enterprise agencies had additional resources in order to offer all available assistance to our exporters to prepare for the challenges posed by Brexit.

"The Enterprise Ireland Eurozone Strategy – supporting companies to diversify into European markets – is an important element of this preparation.”

 

Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor added:

“The global results announced today are heartening overall, with positive export growth in markets such as the USA and Asia.

"However, Brexit remains a huge challenge. I have met representatives of companies, business organisations and other stakeholders throughout the country in recent months to ensure that we are doing everything we can in response to both the short term and long term impact of Brexit to safeguard Irish jobs and exports in every region.”