Jack Quann
Jack Quann

08.00 16 Jul 2020


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Enterprise Ireland has reported strong levels of exports by its client companies in 2019.

The State agency which is responsible for helping Irish firms export to international markets saw exports rose 8% to €25.6bn.

Last year, exports to the Eurozone saw record growth of 15% to €5.6bn, while exports to North America increased by 16% to €4.7bn.

Figures show the construction sector recorded significant growth, up 19% on 2018 to €2.24bn, and digital technologies grew by 11% to €2.41bn.

While food grew at a more moderate pace of 3% to €12.17bn, which Enterprise Ireland says reflects an impact from commodity pricing and Brexit uncertainty.

It says: "The overall dependence on the UK market reduced to 31% of total exports, down from 42% 10 years
ago, a key focus of the Enterprise Ireland diversification strategy."

More than 221,000 people were employed in companies supported by Enterprise Ireland, 65% of which are located outside Dublin.

However, Enterprise Ireland is cautioning that 2020 will be "very challenging" for many Irish exporters due to COVID-19.

It says: "COVID-19 has had a negative impact on order books and international market confidence.

"New contracts won by Enterprise Ireland-backed companies declined by 12% in the first half of 2020."

It says that approximately 1,000 client companies are impacted by the coronavirus, and that there are 300 companies who are very exposed and also have high levels of exports to the UK.

Of these 1,000 companies, 75% reported that their exports have been impacted by COVID-19 and more than half saw a negative impact on cashflows.

Enterprise Ireland Tánaiste Leo Varadkar arriving at Dublin Castle ahead of a Cabinet meeting. Picture by: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

Tánaiste and Enterprise Minister Leo Varadkar says: "Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Enterprise Ireland backed companies had already faced challenging circumstances due to the uncertainty caused by Brexit.

"Despite this, Irish exporters had a really strong year in 2019, with record levels of growth.

"We have already put in place a range of measures to help businesses get through the unprecedented difficulties caused by COVID-19, including grants, low cost loans and deferred tax liabilities.

"We know we need to do more as our economy continues to re-open."

He added: "The July Jobs Stimulus will be far reaching and of scale to get our people back to work and get us back on the road to growth and prosperity."

Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland, says: "Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve seen many Irish businesses pivot in response to emerging market needs in areas such as contact tracing, traveller safety and
confidence in airports and hygiene transparency in the hospitality sector.

"Agility and diversification are essential as we seek to trade successfully in a radically changed world.

"The second half of 2020, however, is expected to be one of the most challenging facing Irish businesses in recent history.

"Not only have many businesses been impacted by a significant reduction in customer demand from markets across the world due to COVID-19, but they are also facing the largest structural change to trading with the UK in over 50 years.

"Brexit is now a reality and from January 1st, for the first time, Irish exporters to the UK are going to be faced with new changes to customs procedures, regulatory alignment and, undoubtedly, additional costs.

"Every Irish exporter must now ensure that they take action in terms of securing their supply chains, customer base and meeting new regulatory requirements and ensure they are ready for January 1st.

"Enterprise Ireland is ready and willing to assist them in this vital work", she adds.

Main image: Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon is seen at Voxpro Dublin in 2017. Picture by: RollingNews.ie

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Covid-19 Enterprise Ireland. Eurozone Irish Firms Julie Sinnamon Leo Varadkar North America

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