Enterprise Ireland client company exports increase by 6%
Enterprise Ireland has announced that its clients recorded export sales of €21.6 billion in 2016, representing a 6% increase on 2015. Export growth to the UK, however, which accounted for €7.5 billion of exports, slowed from 12% in 2015 to 2% in 2016. The slowdown was largely due to a decline in food exports.
Speaking at the event, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that despite the uncertain macro-economic climate, clients of Enterprise Ireland continue to find new markets for their innovative products and services. “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.”
Commenting on the export performance of Enterprise Ireland client companies in 2016, Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland said: “A key role of Enterprise Ireland is to help companies to win new business in international markets and these results show a steady increase in the growth of Irish exports during 2016 globally, with strong growth in North America in particular, where exports grew by 19% to €3.74 billion.”
However, the fact that the growth of exports to the UK has slowed suggests that the impact of Brexit on Irish companies has already started. Companies cannot afford to wait until the Brexit negotiations conclude – they must act now. While diversifying from the UK might have been a desirable objective for Irish companies in the past, Brexit means that it is now an urgent imperative”.
Responding to this Brexit challenge, Enterprise Ireland has announced a new Eurozone Strategy to assist Irish exporters increase exports in Eurozone countries by 50 per cent by 2020.
“Brexit poses serious challenges for Irish companies which is why the Enterprise Ireland Eurozone strategy – supporting companies to diversify into European markets – is so important. Ireland remains steadfast in our commitment to the EU and we will continue to benefit in terms of trade and investment with our European partners further strengthening our exporting footprint. Exports create jobs and the record figures announced here today are very promising for jobs over the coming years”.
Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, said: “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.”
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).
The Eurozone strategy will see a number of new initiatives:
- Increase in funding for Eurozone growth: Enterprise Ireland will increase the level of funding available to support clients to enter or scale in the Eurozone. These include:
- Eurozone market research and feasibility grants
- Eurozone market access grants for market expansion
- Business innovation/R&D grants for product localisation
- ‘Eurozone’ key manager grant
- Management development training and access to language supports
- International Graduate Programme with Eurozone language skills
- Funding for trade event participation in Eurozone countries