Enterprise Ireland, the state agency responsible for helping Irish companies export to international markets, has announced that its clients recorded export sales of €21.6bn in 2016, representing a 6% increase on 2015.
Export growth to the UK, however, which accounted for €7.5bn of exports, slowed from 12% in 2015 to 2% in 2016. The slowdown was largely due to a decline in food exports.
Enterprise Ireland believe the fact that the growth of exports to the UK, has slowed suggests that the impact of Brexit on Irish companies has already started.
The figures released by the agency show that the strongest export growth globally was in software & internationally traded services, which grew by 16% to €4.3bn, and 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% to €3.7bn, followed by exports to the Asia Pacific region, up 16% to €1.8bn.
Responding to this Brexit challenge, Enterprise Ireland has announced a new Eurozone Strategy to assist Irish exporters increase exports in Eurozone countries by 50% by 2020.
The Eurozone Strategy will see Enterprise Ireland partnering with some 600 client companies, approximately half of which are ‘Eurozone Start’ (relatively new to the market and who are heavily reliant on the UK) while the remainder are ‘Eurozone Scale’ (already exporting to the Eurozone).
Enterprise Ireland is also developing a new digital marketing campaign targeted at buyers in key sectors in Eurozone markets. The campaign will highlight the advantage which sourcing from Ireland provides, in terms of access to technology and innovation and working with Irish people who are creative and committed. 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.
Speaking today, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny said, "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."