Exporters lobby issues alert on costs as new markets open up
IRELAND needs to put more emphasis on the services sector, and bring wages down as the country recovers from the downturn, the head of a leading trade group said yesterday.
The president of the Irish Exporters Association (IEA), Liam Shanahan, said that billions of euro could be brought into the Irish economy if steps were taken now by the Government to encourage the export of services.
According to the IEA, around 70pc of the economic output of the EU is based on the services sector; however, this translates to only about 24pc worth of trade in the region.
The recent passage of the EU Services Directive has eased the way for more intra-EU trade in services and brought additional opportunities for Irish services companies.
The directive has seen many legal and administrative barriers to trade in services removed, so that, in theory, businesses should find it easier to locate competitive services from places outside their own country.
It "offers enormous opportunities for Irish services companies to sell their services in all the countries of the EU", Mr Shanahan said.
"It has been estimated that the value of Irish services exports could rise by €10-14bn per annum across the EU 27 now that the Services Directive has come into force," he said.
Irish services exports to the EU stand at €45bn, with exports to the UK accounting for 43pc of the total. The European directive, which came into effect last January, was piloted through Brussels by former commissioner and Minister for Finance Charlie McCreevy.
Mr McCreevy's work in getting the directive passed saw him awarded the IEA's "trade facilitation" gold medal for this year.