Enterprise Ireland client companies hit record-breaking €22.71bn in annual exports in 2017.
It is the highest level of export sales recorded in the history of the State agency with the findings showing a 7% increase on the previous year. Exports to the Eurozone region, which account for 20% of all exports, saw strong growth of 9% to €4.61bn in 2017.
Enterprise Ireland supported 89 Irish companies to export to the Eurozone for the first time in 2017.
Exports to the UK, which is the largest market for Irish exports and, representing 34% of exports, delivered growth of 4% to €7.62bn.
In tandem with the announcement of its export results, Enterprise Ireland also released findings of a recent Brexit survey of over 2,400 clients which found that 85% 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 ambitions to invest, while 65% said it would not change their employment plans.
Julie Sinnamon, Enterprise Ireland CEO, said:
“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,” she said.
With the future UK-EU relationship still very much unknown, Enterprise Ireland has been encouraging its clients to prepare for the worst and hope for the best after Brexit.
Aside from the ongoing strong performance for Irish exporters in the UK market, 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.
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 support 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.”
The minister went on to say: “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.”