Value of Irish exports tops €161bn


The value of Irish exports reached €161 billion last year, the highest annual figure ever recorded.

In its end of year review for 2010, the Irish Exporters Association predicts that this figure will grow to €172.6 billion next year, as total exports grow by an estimated 7.2 per cent.

Figures for last year show that exports of goods and services grew by 6.7 per cent in 2010, with exports in the fourth quarter growing by 18 per cent. The growth in exports was due to an improvement in demand from international markets, as economic recovery took hold.

Sales to the USA - Ireland's largest market - were up by 18 per cent in the year, while sales to Canada were up by 27 per cent. Irish exports to Germany were also particularly strong, increasing by 42 per cent in the year.

However, Irish exports to the UK struggled last year, up only marginally on the year, despite a 1.2 per cent growth in the UK economy. The slight increase in Irish exports to the UK was due to a 3 per cent growth in exports to Northern Ireland, which offset a small fall in exports to England.

Chief executive of the IEA, John Whelan, said there was a clear shift away from dependence on the UK market in favour of export developments in North America, South America and Asia. The emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC countries) showed an increase of 12 per cent in the year.

Ireland's manufacturing and agri-food industries drove the growth in exports. “There were clear signs through out the whole year that manufacturing and agri-food sectors were repositioning themselves, shedding costs, moving up the value chain, and exploiting renewed growth in global markets,” Mr Whelan said.

He was also optimistic about the outlook for 2011. “Ireland’s export performance depends greatly on growth in world trade and according to the OECD’s latest forecast world trade growth is expected to ease down from the 12.3 per cent experienced in 2010 to 8.3 per cent in 2011, and to slow ever further to 8.1 per cent in 2012,” he said.