Enterprise Ireland optimistic as exports set to top €14.7bn
EXPORTS hit a new record this year, as overseas business returned to the pre-downturn levels, a new report has shown.
According to Enterprise Ireland's (EI) End of Year Statement, new export sales by its client companies are expected to be worth more than €1bn by the end of this year, while overall exports will top €14.7bn -- the highest on record.
The EI report strikes a much more optimistic tone than reports from the IMF and Central Bank on the state of the Irish economy, but EI chief executive Frank Ryan said the Irish companies were responding better than ever to the economic difficulties they were facing.
"Irish firms increased exports all over the world, including to countries and regions that were not previously natural destinations for their goods, such as Brazil, India, China and the Middle East," he said.
The growth was spread out across a wide range of industries, but was focused mainly on software, life sciences, food and finance.
Despite the surging exports, the agency, which backs indigenous companies operating abroad, recorded employment at its client companies essentially flat this year. The 162,692 full and part-time staff at the companies was only up slightly on 2010.
Mr Ryan said his agency was forecasting another increase in exports next year to between €15.3bn and €15.4bn next year but warned the global economy would still create obstacles for its clients into 2012.
"There should be no misunderstanding that 2012 will be a year of continuing challenges.
"The world economy is forecast to grow by about 3.6pc which is at the top end of historic trends, but we are not complacent and we could have a difficult year ahead,'' he said.
"In preparation for this, Enterprise Ireland will move rapidly to implement the Government's planned jobs strategy.''
Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton welcomed the report, describing EI's performance for the year as "creditable".